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Early challenges to multilingualism on the Internet: the case of Han character-based scripts

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • In today’s hyper-mediated world where computer software can deal seamlessly with a variety of the world’s languages and scripts, it is difficult to recall the seemingly insurmountable computing

    problems raised by “Han” character-based scripts such as Chinese, Japanese (and to a lesser extent, Korean). In the early days of networked computing, some commentators even argued that the

    continued use of Han characters was a lost cause, and could only result in “intolerable inefficiencies” when used to communicate digital information. In this paper, I consider the orthographic factors

    that delayed the implementation of cross-platform protocols allowing for the input, display and transmission of character-based scripts across early computer networks (mid-1980s to mid-1990s). I

    note how Anglophone Internet histories have been largely oblivious to the inherent biases of Internet infrastructure that were built by programmers using ASCII (based on the limited range of characters

    provided by the Roman alphabet) who also assumed the QWERTY keyboard to be the obvious human–machine interface. Instead of stressing the deficiencies of character-based scripts, I invite the

    reader to consider how the Internet might look today had it not been founded upon assumptions based on Anglophone usage, and consider the potentialities of a non-phonetic character-based

    writing system.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • McLelland, M. (2017). Early challenges to multilingualism on the Internet: the case of Han character-based scripts. Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society, 1 (1-2), 119-128.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85068970332

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4006&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2995

Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 119

End Page


  • 128

Volume


  • 1

Issue


  • 1-2

Abstract


  • In today’s hyper-mediated world where computer software can deal seamlessly with a variety of the world’s languages and scripts, it is difficult to recall the seemingly insurmountable computing

    problems raised by “Han” character-based scripts such as Chinese, Japanese (and to a lesser extent, Korean). In the early days of networked computing, some commentators even argued that the

    continued use of Han characters was a lost cause, and could only result in “intolerable inefficiencies” when used to communicate digital information. In this paper, I consider the orthographic factors

    that delayed the implementation of cross-platform protocols allowing for the input, display and transmission of character-based scripts across early computer networks (mid-1980s to mid-1990s). I

    note how Anglophone Internet histories have been largely oblivious to the inherent biases of Internet infrastructure that were built by programmers using ASCII (based on the limited range of characters

    provided by the Roman alphabet) who also assumed the QWERTY keyboard to be the obvious human–machine interface. Instead of stressing the deficiencies of character-based scripts, I invite the

    reader to consider how the Internet might look today had it not been founded upon assumptions based on Anglophone usage, and consider the potentialities of a non-phonetic character-based

    writing system.

Publication Date


  • 2017

Citation


  • McLelland, M. (2017). Early challenges to multilingualism on the Internet: the case of Han character-based scripts. Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society, 1 (1-2), 119-128.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85068970332

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4006&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2995

Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 119

End Page


  • 128

Volume


  • 1

Issue


  • 1-2