Re: Polite international e-mail

Subject: Re: Polite international e-mail
From: Chris Kowalchuk <chris -at- bdk -dot- net>
To: Sandy Harris <sharris -at- dkl -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 16:38:47 -0500

Perhaps UTF-8 _should_ be supported, and I would be interested to know
what character set a standard French or Italian or Spanish (for example)
keyboard is mapped to. As far as I can tell (even from the document you
cite), UTF-8 can only be supported in a program capable of applying tags
which give protocol or language information (such as MIME or HTML). The
original question was what protocol (human) should be used in the
absense of a more advanced protocol (machine/software), which I believe
is still the case when sending/receiving plain-text e-mail. RFC 2277
suggests that one revert to US-ASCII in such a case, and so we are back
to where we started, at least until we move to a truly international
standard for all computers, but in other reading on the subject I have
done, even a 16-bit character set would not be sufficient to render all
the desired characters in all the available languages. In the meantime,
if an American is trying to communicate with a Frechman or a German, _in
plain text_ he can at least draw on the extended ASCII to do so. If it's
Greek he wants, then plain text is not an option, and the Greek language
is excluded from this list for technical reasons.

But I would like to know if the Europeans have moved to a different
standard for the "lowest common denominator" used by their machines to
render readable characters? If they have, then indeed the ASCII would no
doubt look like garbage to them and we are really stuck, because as far
as I know, I and several million North Americans have no way of telling
our keyboards and plain text readers/writers to use UTF-8.

Can anyone on the list clarify this subject?

Chris Kowalchuk

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