5.0354 Multilingual WP (6/207)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 2 Oct 1991 23:51:23 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0354. Wednesday, 2 Oct 1991.

(1) Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 12:01 BST (17 lines)
From: "David Zeitlyn" <ZEITLYN@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 5.0350 Multilingual WP

(2) Date: Wed, 02 Oct 91 14:36:30 IST (38 lines)
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0321 Qs: Language W/P;

(3) Date: Wed, 02 Oct 91 14:58:39 IST (25 lines)
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0337 Multilingual WP,

(4) Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 08:28:52 PDT (15 lines)
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
Subject: Thanks for Correction

(5) Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 12:49 EDT (40 lines)
From: Tom Crone <CRONE@CUA>
Subject: Re: Multilingual Word Processing, Etc.

(6) Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 21:17:17 CDT (72 lines)
From: john@utafll.uta.edu (John Baima)
Subject: Multilingual WP

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 12:01 BST
From: "David Zeitlyn, ISCA, University of Oxford, UK" <ZEITLYN@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 5.0350 Multilingual WP (2/58)

In discussion of multi-lingual wordprocessors, particularly for PC but
also other operating systems mention really should be made of the
programs distributed for cost by S.I.L. (Summer Institute of Lnguistics)
Although clumsy to set up once these do offer a wide range of phonetic
charactors (or other graphemes) which may be used in wordprocessoing or
database work.

I dont use them myself since I use my own standard + few phonetic chars
on mac BUT I have seen both the results and the programs running on solar
powered portables in relatively deep bush in Cameroon.

best wishes
david zeitlyn
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------42----
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 91 14:36:30 IST
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0321 Qs: Language W/P; al-Tawfiq; Peter Scott? (3/41)

An Israeli company called Micro-Macro produces a word processor called
Rav-Ktav which writes both Hebrew and English on a Mac; I believe it can
write Arabic as well (the problems of Arabic are almost identical with
those of Hebrew with the added fillip of initial, median, and final
forms of each letter; I remember being shown a program that would deal
with Arabic correctly, but I do not remember whether or not the
program in question was Rav-Ktav). Rav Ktav is a relatively primitive
word-processor in that it does not have automatic footnoting, etc.--
at least not in the version with which I have been dealing. It does
deal with fonts and page layouts in an acceptable way, and would
surely beat buying a DOS computer just for the Hebrew and Arabic.

A more advanced word processor is Nisus, which is now available
in a version that supports Hebrew. I have not tried it but am told
that it can do a number of things that Rav-Ktav cannot. I do not
know who distributes it, or whether it is an Israeli product or an
international one, but I can get the information without trouble if

A nuisance with both of them is security -- the Israeli market
is not large enough to support unprotected software. Rav-Ktav will
not work without a key diskette, and if you lose the diskette,
Micro-Macro will not replace it -- you have to buy the whole
program again, for a few hundred dollars. Nisus comes with a
"dangle" that attaches, I believe, to the printer port -- also
a nuisance but perhaps less likely to get lost. I understand
that Rav-Ktav is considering changing its security method,
but that is as much as I know.

David M. Schaps
Department of Classical Studies
Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, Israel
FAX: 972-3-347-601
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------31----
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 91 14:58:39 IST
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0337 Multilingual WP, OSs, characters, fonts (1/121)

With regard to Richard Goerwitz's comments about wordwrap in right-to-
left languages: this problem has been solved in all Israeli word proces-
sors since about 1984; any product made for Israel with wrap right-to-
left text properly as a matter of course, in DOS or any other system.
This is one example of a general fact that is not well known to every-
one: the problems of scholars who may occasionally cite a word or two
in a foreign language and of those who work regularly in that language
are not necessarily the same. No Israeli secretary could have used
a word-processor that required her to write every word backwards --
could you? -- so the Israelis solved this years ago while many
American scholars continue to use solutions that are bearable as long
as you don't need them too much (on the other side, Israelis make
virtually no use of the Hebrew vowel points, which are usually vital
to foreign scholars). Moral: before you buy, make sure that the
program addresses your needs -- preferably by hands-on use.

David M. Schaps
Department of Classical Studies
Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, Israel
FAX: 972-3-347-601
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 08:28:52 PDT
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
SUBJECT: Thanks for Correction


Thanks for correcting my incorrect statement about not being able to
choose font sizes other than the listed ones in Microsoft Word. I
completely forgot about the "Character" menu choice.


John J. Hughes

P.S. I'm not after "3,000-point" fonts! 127-points is large enough for me.
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------44----
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 12:49 EDT
From: Tom Crone <CRONE@CUA>
Subject: Re: Multilingual Word Processing, Etc.

As a user consultant at a university, I read the message from John J Hughes
<XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET> with mixed feelings. One of the points that he
stated very strongly is the one I most disagreed with:

>If Sprint is my word processor of choice, and if I have solved all my Greek
>and Hebrew multilingual word processing needs in Sprint, I'm not the least
>bit worried if my Sprint files can be imported into Nota Bene, WordPerfect,
>or 101 other DOS programs.

Until you meet someone at a conference and decide to collaborate with him.
If he uses Nota Bene, then converting back and forth between Sprint and
Nota Bene is suddenly very important. Or perhaps the journal you want to
publish your article accepts manuscripts in WordPerfect or TeX format.
These conversion problems often find their way to me as user consultant.

Another point of disagreement:
>(5) QUOTE: "My quarrel with the PC is over its entire approach to text
>display. It's a crusty old remnant of bygone days, and really doesn't
>belong in a modern system....
>(a) The main confusion in quotation (5) above is between operating
>systems and hardware platforms. A given hardware platform can be
>operated by as many operating systems as have been designed for the
>platform, and each operating system will have its own distinct

One of the biggest problems IBM has left us with the PC is the lack of
a standard video interface. You can find PCs with CGA, Hercules, EGA,
VGA, and extended VGA video (and soon XGA?). The only thing common to
all those is the 80 column text screen, which is a left over from the
punched cards of 20 years ago. The problem is there is no consistant
"hardware platform" to write systems for.

Sr User Consultant/Programmer The Catholic University of America
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------80----
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 21:17:17 CDT
From: john@utafll.uta.edu (John Baima)
Subject: Multilingual WP

I think that the discussion about multilingual computing (not just word
processing) is an important topic for HUMANISTS. Even after Richard's
long note and John Hughes' extraordinary note, I'd like to throw in my
two cents.

I must say that I have had my differences with Richard over the best
solution to various problems, but I do agree with his concern about
portability and his statement: "On a system which lacks such an
internationalized script display interface, every program would be an
island unto itself. A kludge."

Now I'm sure that John Hughes, as Product Manager for Zondervan
Electronic Publishing, was excited by this and stated, "Excuse me for
wondering how many scholars who do multilingual word processing and
other forms of text manipulation sit up nights worrying about
portability." Many, I would think. And it is not just 101 DOS apps,
John, it is over 10,001 apps.

Now don't get me wrong, I recommend John's Scripture Fonts program for
people who want to do Hebrew in Word Perfect. But honestly, if the
contortions that were necessary to make Word Perfect do right to left
input and print Hebrew with vowels is not an idiosyncratic kludge, I've
never seen one. By necessity Scripture Fonts is not compatible with any
other Word Perfect add on, let alone products outside Word Perfect in a
seamless way. Yes, maybe my program and a few others can output to
Scripture Fonts, but no DOS solution for Hebrew or any other "difficult"
language is anything but idiosyncratic.

There have been many times that I have wished for multilingual
support in DOS programs that are not "multilingual". As Richard has
tried to point out, the solution is at the operating system level not
the application level. If each application has to work out a new
solution, we will never have a good situation. It simply costs too much
to reinvent the wheel for each app. Ask John how long it took to get his
product out.

We need not just portability between apps, but between operating
systems so that Richard can use NeXT, I can use OS/2, others Macs. Then
we can all communicate well and quit wasting time fooling around with
short term and local "solutions."

I could not disagree more with John's statement, "More importantly, the
ability to preserve font and formatting information from application to
application is a function of the applications, not of the operating
system or platform." Changing languages is not just changing "fonts" or
"formatting". Languages are much more complicated than that and the
attitude that the solution is just fonts and formatting will keep us from
seeking and reaching good solutions.

Well, this is already too long. I think that the only good long term
solution on the horizon is Unicode. All the major US OS companies as well
as several of the biggest application vendors are part of the Unicode
Consortium. All will implement it in time. The first implementations will
probably not be for at least 12-18 months. There will then be a lag as
apps are retrofited to take advantage of the OS. Then and only then, we
will begin to have truly nice, affordable (sorry Xerox), multilingual

As a final aside, I would like to state that I think proper ethics
demand that when we discuss products with which we have a direct and
unambiguous financial connection, we need to make that connection clear.
Trying to be evenhanded is not enough. Including misleading statements
such as, "I believe the price is . . . According to my records,
Zondervan's phone number is . . ." is unacceptable.

John Baima
Silver Mountain Software
(Lbase, Bible Windows)