The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 14 October 2003]

Three little letters

Thinking more about the problems with high-ASCII characters being munged by computers reminded me of some of the insane silliness that happened in Sweden during the Big PC Explosion of the late 80s. At that point in time a lot of PCs shipped with American keyboards. Which is fine, as long as you don’t need to type in any strange characters, like, oh, let’s say, åäö. What’s crucial to remember here is that åäö aren’t some fancy-schmancy things that only typographers care about–they’re letters in the Swedish alphabet. This means that typing without them is like arbitrarily removing three letters from the alphabet. In other words, you’re castrating the language.

Being of the opinion that computers are supposed to help us, not force us into downgrading civilization to comply with whatever limits were designed into the machines, I thought this was absolutely sickening.

But then things got really weird. A lot of people got the idea that not using åäö was really cool and International. “Hey, who needs ‘em!” rang the cry. “You can figure it out from context.” And besides, not using åäö will make us more International. Think about that one for a second.

It even went far enough that major Swedish corporations that happened to have the offending characters in their names dropped the diacritical marks. Begone, foul non-International reminders of our humble origins! This, of course, made their names sound incredibly silly to Swedish ears, but hey, what are you going to do?

I still know people who don’t use åäö in their emails. And it freaks me out.

Now, as you can tell from my writing this little rant in English and living in the States, I’m not exactly the staunchest Swedish jingoist, but that’s not the point.

The point is that due to some arbitrary design limitations built in to computers a long time ago, people of a certain mindset started to consider the voluntary castration of their own language a sign of progress.

Sigh. I need to not think about these kinds of things.

…Hey, purple!

Music: 7Rain by Front 242

« Seven bits of evil

 »


Enjoy the ten latest posts!

Book roundup, part 30

Back once again with the sci-fi and general calamity. Includes The End is Always Near, Eat the Apple, A Memory Called Empire, Gideon the Ninth, Infinite Detail, Permafrost, Fallen, and The October Man.

The master’s tools will never be used to dismantle the master’s house

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice

Impressions moving from an Apple Watch Series 3 to Series 5

Is there reason to upgrade from a 3 to a 5?

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything

Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing

Die in a ditch

After all these years, Nic still can’t understand the American attitude to healthcare.

The big thieves hang the little ones

Book roundup, part 29

A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable