> Mandarin Chinese may have the largest
> number of persons who speak it as their
> first language, however, It is
> debatable as to whether Chinese is the
> "most used" language in the world.
On the contrary, I do believe that it is most used. English, however, is most likely the most widely known and understood. English is by far the most widely used for commerce, but other than that, more often than not, people in different countries converse in their native language (they *use* a non-English language).
But this is missing my point. For some curious reason, some folks have come to believe that I think that all English-based programming syntax (if/while/for) should be changed to Chinese pictographs. For the last time, hear this: I did not say this! I did not imply this. I implied that there is a sufficiently large number of people to warrant the processing and display of non-romanized text.
I am aware of the use of romaji for input purposes in Japan. I am also aware that many of those uses of romaji also include a kanji/hiragana/katakana translation step. In other words, after the romaji is input, a list of applicable pictograph substitutes is presented for selection. This is not every case, but it is a very common case in my experience. To put it into context, it would be the equivalent of an English speaker always writing 'to' in their writings whenever 'to', 'two', or 'too' was intended. Sure the reader could figure it out, and they all sound the same, but wouldn't it be better in many cases to take the time and select the correct one? "I have to presents to give to my to brothers to." See what I mean?
A keyboard does not have to pictograph-based in order for a computer to handle pictograph data. There are also advances in handwriting technology. Right now, it is not uncommon for reporters in Japan to hand-write their notes and transcribe them later instead of using a laptop and romaji translation because the laptop is slower for them. Handwriting recognition would remove this barrier. Of course, it would require that an i18n capable OS and editor is available -- hence the point of this discussion.
Note: the point of this discussion is not that we sould scrap all keyboards in current use either.
And yes, I am aware that while the characters of China and Japan are very similar, their speech, pronounciation, and cultures are very distinct. In fact, other posts of mine in this discussion have pointed out this fact; however as not all computers have text-to-speech engines and are visually accessed from a screen in most cases, the importance of being able to display and input the characters is still much more relevant.
Yes, east asia uses the romanized alphabet extensively. Any visit to east asia, however, will demonstrate very quickly that it is not used to the exception of pictographs. There is demand out there to handle both.
Re: Japanese is proprietary
Japanese Kanji (if memory serves) is based on the tradional Chinese characters much like many other east-asian pictographs. However, I believe you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the use for extended alphabets (for lack of a better term).
In China, there are many different dialects. Many of these dialects are different enough from each other as to make verbal communication difficult. This is natural. Anytime you have a large number of people spread out over a wide area, speech and customs diverge. That said, for all intents and purposes, any literate person in China can read what any other literate person in China has written. This is possible because while the western alphabet is based upon phonetics which vary after language evolves, pictographs are not dependant upon how they are spoken. In fact, even though a great deal of time has passed, many Japanese citizens can get by reading Chinese glyphs even though the languages are noticeably different at this point.
On a side note, I really would love to know where you get the notion that Japanese children are effectively illiterate until they reach the age of thirteen. Fascinating theory.
More people-oriented? Not computer-oriented? Who exactly do you think uses computers? Computers? The computers don't care. The computers just want opcodes and data streams. Correction: the computers don't want anything. Without computers, people still have a reason to be. Without people, computers cease to have any reason to exist. Most text isn't source code. Most text on a computer system is personal data or localized messages for the reading pleasure of people. For millions of people on the planet, that personal data and those localized messages are in Japanese. This is the information that people want to retrieve from lynx. This is the information that people want to get from their computer no matter where they are. This information is people-oriented. And this information is loaded and saved from programs that must understand other character sets and must be displayed on computer screens (even in text mode).
No one in this discussion -- absolutely no one -- has stated that they believe that we should rewrite C so that all of the if-else/while/for is translated into a different language. I know of no person who honestly thinks that's a worthwhile goal.
We have not been talking about switching source code and programming language syntax so that it reads like Japanese or Korean. We have been talking about writing that source code so that Japanese data files (and other languages on the planet) can be efficiently and transparently processed and displayed.
Please go back and read the last paragraph over and over again until it finally sinks in. I am happy that you have accepted that UTF-8 is a valid substitute on most users' systems. That removes any disc storage issues that you have previously brought forth. What we are talking about is making sure that programs can read those UTF-8 (or UCS-4 depending on the program's goals) files. No one is trying to make you learn how to read Chinese or Japanese or Thai. By all means, please ignore these languages. Let someone else deal with bi-directional text display issues. Just use UTF-8 much as you previously used ASCII, and live a long and prosperous life with your western alphabet. Now everyone is happy.