The history of messing up Romanian on computers
by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/08/24 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/08/24/10199324.aspx
It was years ago that I first predicted about Romanian (in blogs like Be careful what you wish for (just in case it comes true!) aka When a Cedilla needs to be a Comma Below (and vice versa)) that despite claiming to be pleased that people would continue for some time to note problems.
The most recent proof of that showed up in my inbox the other day, from Christian Adam:
Hi Michael, Windows 7 has a few problems left regarding the Romanian S and T comma bellow characters. Read more about them here: http://cristianadam.blogspot.com/2011/08/windows-7-and-romanian-language.html Thank you, Cristian.
His blog covers many complaints across different fonts.
I had been working on something else, though -- the real look into the whole history of the problem.
All of this started many years ago, and I wanted to provide more contexf.
In the end, I found someone who did a better job.
In this timeline from KitBlog and a great blog, the timeline is laid bare. I will copy it here, but it is worth the visit there, and not only for the additional info!
- 1987. Romanian language is associated with ISO 8859‑2 (Latin 2)—the international standard stipulates S-cedilla and T-cedilla glyphs. Romanian officials are oblivious to the matter. Very, very bad.
- 1995. Unicode consortium specifies in version 1.1.5 codepoints U+015E (Latin Capital Letter S With cedilla), U+015F (Latin Small Letter S With cedilla), U+0162 (Latin Capital Letter T With cedilla), U+0163 (Latin Small Letter T With cedilla) as suitable for both Turkish and Romanian, and defined them as containing the cedilla accent. Turkish language indeed uses cedilla in U+015E, U+015F but does not make any use of U+0162, U+0163. Romanian language doesn't use any of them. Very bad.
- 1995. Windows 95 launches with no support for Romanian language by default. Support is available on CD-ROM Extras for Microsoft Windows 95 Upgrade. The typeface ILP Rumanian B100 substitutes Q/q with Ă/ă. Dark ages. Bad.
- 1997. Apple’s MAC OS 7.6.1 honors Romanian S/s with comma below and T/t with comma below diacritics with MacRomanian (ten years before Microsoft). Interesting enough, its tables do not resolve U+015E, U+015F, U+0162 nor U+0163 (no S/s with cedilla nor T/t with cedilla)—at all! Good.
- 1997. Adobe Glyph List (AGL 1.0 and 1.1) specifies "Tcommaacent" and "tcommaaccent" instead of Tcedilla/tcedilla (no resolve for Scedilla and scedilla). The consequence of this decision is that Romanian documents using the (unofficial) Unicode points U+015E/F and U+0162/3 (for Ș/ș and Ț/ț) are rendered in Adobe fonts in a visually inconsistent way using S/s with cedilla and T/t with comma below. Good going bad...
It takes ten years for The Romanian Standards Association to react. It takes ten years for ASRO
to react. In 1997 the association complains to ISO
about the S-cedilla
standardization requesting an amendment. Good.
- 1998. The revised version of ISO/IEC 8859‑2 (Latin 2) is ratified without the requested amendment. A note mentions that "the letters S and T with cedilla below may be used to substitute for the letters S and T with comma below". Very bad.
- 1998. Adobe switches 015E/F back to T/tcedilla. Defines 0218/9 as S/scommaaccent, 021A/B as T/tcommaaccent before Unicode's 3.0 revision but after Apple's MAC OS 7.6.1. Good.
- 1999. In its release 3.0 the Unicode consortium adds the mappings U+0218 (Latin Capital Letter S With comma below), U+0219 (Latin Small Letter S With comma below), U+021A (Latin Capital Letter T With comma below), U+021B (Latin Small Letter T With comma below), and defined them as containing a “commaaccent”. Great.
- 1999. After 12 years The Romanian Standards Association standardizes the right glyphs. The Romanian Standards Association adopts SR 13411 standard that stipulates S/s-comma and T/t-comma as official Romanian letters. Good.
- 2001. ISO publishes ISO/IEC 8859-16 also known as Latin-10 or "South-Eastern European" incorporating Romanian SR 13411 standard, in spite of strong opposition from USA's representatives and from Mr. J. W. van Wingen, Netherlands' representative. Finally Romanian language's standard form is also the correct one. Good.
- 2001. Microsoft Office v. X for Mac OS X is released crippled, without support Unicode font display or input. Office documents with diacritics created on Windows won't display properly on the Macintosh. Bad.
- 2001. Apple immediately aligns their OS X to ISO/IEC 8859-16. Good, but...
- 2001. Unfortunately, Mac OS X does not recognize the "*commaaccent" glyphnames that are defined by Adobe for Romanian and Baltic languages (such as Tcommaaccent, Rcommaaccent, Kcommaaccent, Ncommaaccent) but instead only recognizes the "*cedilla" names (T/tcedilla, R/rcedilla, K/kcedilla, N/ncedilla) or the "uni****" names (uni0162, uni0156, uni0136, uni0145). This means that Mac OS X will fail to recognize the glyphs T/tcommaaccent, R/rcommaaccent, K/kcommaaccent, N/ncommaaccent and map them to their respective Unicodes. [Adam Twardoch] Bad.
- 2001. Microsoft along with other software vendors disregards ISO/IEC 8859-16. Ugly.
- 2001. Microsoft Windows XP is launched. In order to correctly encode and render both S-comma and T-comma, one has to install the European Union Expansion Font Update. Unfortunately, there is no official way to add keyboard support for these characters. In order to type them, one has to either install 3rd party keyboards, or use the Character Map. Bad.
- 2003. Macromedia Freehand MX (11) is released without OpenType support. Bad.
- 2003. Adobe releases Creative Suite 1 applications with Unicode support. Designers are able to produce inter-platform Romanian typography without hacking fonts. Good.
- 2003. People protest against Microsoft practices—most notable is Mr. Cristian Secară with his 2003 open letter to Microsoft Romania (link in Romanian). Good.
- 2003. After 16 years The Linguistic Institute of the Romanian Academy finally answers. The dormant Linguistic Institute of the Romanian Academy finally honors the request concerning the exact form of the glyphs under letters S and T—says it must be a comma. Very late, still good.
- 2004. Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac is released with Unicode support. Good.
- 2007. Six years late and five months after Romania (and Bulgaria) joined the EU, Microsoft releases updated fonts that include all official glyphs of Romanian alphabet. This font update targeted Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. Good, at last.
- 2007. Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 is released without support for comma-below variants of S/s and T/t in any of its three bundled fonts. Bad.
- 2007. Mac OS X ignores the glyph-to-Unicode mapping provided in the “cmap” table of OpenType PS (CFF/.otf) fonts, while it uses it for OpenType TT (.ttf) fonts. For OpenType PS fonts, Mac OS X uses the glyph-to-glyphname mapping provided in the font and then maps the glyphnames to Unicodes itself.. Bad.
- 2007. The subset of Unicode most widely supported on Microsoft Windows systems, Windows Glyph List 4, still does not include the comma-below variants of S/s and T/t. Bad, as usual.
- 2008. Some OpenType fonts from Adobe and all C-series Vista fonts implement the optional OpenType feature GSUB/latn/ROM/locl. This feature forces S-cedilla to be rendered using the same glyph as S with comma below. When this second (but optional) remapping takes place, Romanian Unicode text is rendered with comma-below glyphs regardless of code point variants. Good.
- 2008. Very few Windows applications support the locl feature tag. From the Adobe CS3 suite, only InDesign has support for it. Bad.
- 2008. Apple updates iPhone OS X to version 2.1, adds Romanian keyboard and correct glyphs for Romanian diacritics. Good.
- 2008. Some Nokia phones still use incorrect S-cedilla and T-cedilla glyphs. Some Sony Ericsson phones use an uneven T with comma below and S-cedilla combo. Bad.
- 2010. Apple launches the iPad in the US and a few European countries—from where it is unofficially imported to Romania—without support for Romanian language. iPad's current iOS 3.2 (7B367) can display the full range of Romanian letters with diacritics but lacks the keyboard for typing them. Expected, but annoying.
- 2010. Current version(s) of Android officially supported by the carriers (1.5–2.1) cannot display correctly all letters with Romanian diacritic marks and are completely unable to generate them (via keyboard) out of the box. In order to make diacritics available for typing, Romanian Keyboard for Android (sporting itself a Turkish S-cedilla on its icon) has to be downloaded and installed. [See comments 51–57 below.] Back-to-1995-kind-of-bad.
- 2010. Romanian-language Wikipedia switches to the correct Romanian diacritic marks. Excellent.
While one can see many problems attributed to many companies and others over the last few decades, the worst problems in my view were the Romanian standards folks doing so much wrong, for so long.
Now everyone is dealing with the fallout, as we all have been for years (and will continue to do so for many more)...
John Cowan on 24 Aug 2011 9:07 AM:
Romania has had a tad more to deal with than worrying about the exact shapes of its letters in international standards.
As for rendering U+0162/3 with commas, that's not so bad considering the history and considering that no language actually uses t with cedilla for anything. (There was an 1868 proposal to use it in French for t's pronounced /s/, but it never went anywhere.)
Cristian on 24 Aug 2011 9:22 AM:
The timeline on KitBlog stops at 2010. I would like to add:
2011. Google adds the missing Romanian letter to the Droid fonts (http://goo.gl/ZW5uM) Good.
Can we hope for?
2012. Microsoft releases Windows 8 with increased support for Romanian language
(actual comma bellow, even comma and cedillas, and OpenType locl for all fonts). Flawless perfection.
Adrian.Nastase on 25 Aug 2011 12:56 AM:
"Romanian standards folks doing so much wrong, for so long" <-- isn't a little too exagerated? Maybe there was some lack of communication and coordination between the various organizations.
You have to consider the fact that the development and impact of PCs in East Europe wasn't at the same scale as in West Europe or US. And as J. Cowan remarked, the shapes of the letters was and still is less important than other economical and social issues. It's nice to have all the diacritics, though people made it for years without them. Actually I kind of get used to this aspect.
In informal electronic message exchange sometimes the S/s and T/t with cedilla were replaced with sh, respectively tz, but that mainly to reduce the confusion (and sometimes also from infatuation). Actually, there isn't much place for confusions, the missing cedilla being in most of the cases evident from context.
Michael S. Kaplan on 25 Aug 2011 6:17 AM:
Well, it is exagerated, except when there are complaints about the fine typopgraphy -- at that point, the concerns are a valid point about where it all started....
Tae on 15 Jun 2012 5:23 AM:
EA launches Dragon Age 2 with additional language files for Poland and Russia without support for Romanian language. The Minion Pro Bold and Myriad Pro Regular fonts can generate the Romanian letters but lacks the language file for playing Dragon Age 2.
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