Subject: Re: Reviews for lisp implementations
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/04/17
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Vassil Nikolov <>
| It's good that it has been solved (well, I shouldn't say that when I
| don't know how).  I was never able to understand what made them use M-DEL
| for a printable character in the first place.

  ISO character sets come in 94-character and 96-character flavors, apart
  from ISO 10646.  the ISO 8859 family uses the ISO 4873 8-bit template,
  with a 94-character set in the left half and a 96-character set in the
  right half.

  in the 94-character set, 2/0 is SPACE and 7/15 is DELETE, both of which
  sort of dual as control and data characters.  in the 96-character set,
  2/0 and 7/15 are data characters.

  if you have a 94-character set and only 7 bits worth of data, the last
  bit is free to be used for other purposes, such as constant zero, parity,
  an application flag, or constant one.  most modern uses are constant zero
  and an application flag.  however, if you use an 8-bit character set, the
  only chance you have at using an application flag is with 10/0 and 15/15,
  in which case you'd probably want a non-breaking space and what IBM calls
  EO (eight ones), used as an "end of whatever" signal.  referring to 15/15
  as "M-DEL" regardless of whether it is a character or EO betrays a
  serious conceptual confusion about the usage of the code space.

  incidentally, there _is_ no upper-case version of ÿ, just as there is no
  upper-case version of ß.  pining for LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Y WITH DIARESIS
  is like pining for LATIN CAPITAL LETTER SHARP S -- a symptom of a strong
  inability to deal with practical matters and to understand the sometimes
  _very_ erratic history of writing systems.

  not that Vassil or anyone here is particularly to blame for this, but the
  history of the æ, oe (not in 8859-1 because some French moron told ECMA
  it wasn't needed and shouldn't be there, and then we got × and ÷ stuck in
  the middle of the O's, only to have the smart French guy who designed
  this stuff return fully recuperated after some serious accident or other,
  only the voting had completed, to demand a 8859 member with OE and oe --
  which they got from ISO after a few years, but which nobody uses, not
  even the French¹), and ÿ are one of dipthongs that merged over the course
  of centuries and then assumed phonemes of their own.  ae -> æ in Denmark
  and Norway are almost the same as ä in Sweden, but different from ä in
  Germany (and the decoration used to be different, too, until ECMA had
  enough of it).  the French oe has a long and arduous story I don't know
  in detail, but it's not unlike ö in Germany.

  now, ÿ is not a y with diaeresis at all.  it has more in common with et
  (&) and ad (@) than y, since it's "ij" written together.  in Belgia and
  the Netherlands, it is pronounced like the English long I.  of course, as
  time goes by, various stupid people will do all kinds of stupid things,
  and in this case, we have the _reverse_ of what happened in France when
  some genius² decided that capital letters should not have accents because
  that was too hard to do with early typewriters and printers -- this has
  since been reversed when computers learned how to handle French.  so now
  that we have these nifty computerized thingamajigs, let's just forget
  that neither I nor J have dots on them, even though i and j do (despite
  the linguist³ who decided that Turkish i and j should upcase to I and J
  with dots, but I and J should downcase to i and j without dots, which I
  think is at least part of the reason awful movies get Turkey awards), so
  the nifty computers should produce a _really_ historically moronic letter
  that nobody in their right mind would ever want to use.

  so, the single cluon in danger of being annihilated by swarms of morons
  upon contact is that just as ß is upcased to SS, ÿ is upcased to IJ.

[ this article was best viewed with an ISO 8859-1 capable font. ]

¹ the morale of this story is either to keep the morons away from standards
  bodies or not to have serious accidents if you're the only smart guy in
² read: moron -- it wasn't the only smart guy in France alluded to above.
³ another moron; wouldn't surprise me if he was French.
environmentalists are much too concerned with planet earth.  their geocentric
attitude prevents them from seeing the greater picture -- lots of planets are
much worse off than earth is.