No offense intended, I promise

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/05/08 03:09 -04:00, original URI:

Somebody was looking at Notepad in Vista the other day, and they noticed that when they right-clicked and looked at the Insert Unicode control character submenu, it looked like the following:

The thing that they noticed was that some of these character abbreviations could possibly offend some people?

These acronyms for Unicode control characters did not come from Microsoft, though. They come from Unicode and ISO's WG2. On the whole I doubt anyone will truly be offended by them, though I can imagine there could be young children who would be entertained by finding the words hidden in Windows or on the Unicode web site if they looked hard enough....

If you look at most of these characters in the Unicode code charts, you'll see that the bulk of them are a square box that contains the acronym, so changing them at this point would change the reference glyphs and cause the character name to fall out of sync with the acronym. Which hardly seems worth making the change....


This post brought to you by "ઔ" (U+0a94, a.k.a. GUJARATI LETTER AU)

guhma on 8 May 2006 8:54 AM:

Personally, when I see ASS I think "Activate Symmetric Swapping."  But NADS however, that way offend some people.

Heath Stewart on 8 May 2006 1:28 PM:

As acronyms these shouldn't offend anyone, and I think kids should be taught the difference between A.S.S. and the other form.

It reminds me of the book, "Everybody Poops". It's a book to help kids quit thinking of poo as a joke and single kids out who do poop during school as different. If people could get past that A.S.S. looks like [donkey] and be serious, that would be better. People just need to look past those double entendres and the like.

Joel Spolsky on 8 May 2006 9:45 PM:

It's in XP, too.

It comes from the system text control, not Notepad. You can see it in the Address bar of IE. It's hard to believe anyone uses any of those!

Michael S. Kaplan on 8 May 2006 11:19 PM:

Well, I will admit it is unlikely in the IE Address Bar. :-)

Some of them are much more likely than others in apps like Notepad, like LRM/RLM/ZWJ/ZWNJ....

Joel Spolsky on 9 May 2006 11:34 AM:

Who would ever use them?

I really doubt it there are more than five or six Hebrew/Arabic/Farsi/Urdu speakers in the whole world who know and care enough about Unicode to use these features, especially since even without them most bidi scenarios work exactly as expected.

I think this probably gets the award as the least useful feature in the most prominent place :-)

I have Hebrew enabled on most of my computers; it seems this feature disappears if you don't.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 May 2006 12:39 PM:

Well, I do, for one. :-)

Most of them (especially the embedding Cf chars) are pretty rare and obscure, and I would not miss them if they disappeared. Same for the digit shape stuff.

But I have gone on and on here about the useful things that can be done with LRM/RLM fof Bidi and there is a ton that can be done (and in some Indic languages must be done) with ZWJ/ZWNJ.

Not that I would use "useful to me personally" as criteria for a Windows feature, but there are actual users of languages who have more critical needs than I, too....

I have blogged in the past about other issues with CS langpack, I should probably blog about the one you brought up, though, too....

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