moyogo's little blog

Blogging about Open Source, fonts, language technology, maps and random stuff happening wherever I am.


Locales mess up typography

If you're familiar with computers and their multilingual capabilities (or deficiencies), you already know what locales are. Let me tell you... even though they can be very painful to deal with, they're just the tip of the iceberg.

There are so many things that can change from on country to the other. For example: in French, we can't seem to agree how to write down numbers. Is 75000 written 75'000, 75.000 or 75 000 (with a non breakable space)? Apparently some scientific standard organisation settled for the last, leaving the choice to use comma or period as decimal separator, i.e., 1 and a half would be 1,5 in French and 1.5 in English but both should use 75 000.

The other frustrating thing is things like names of places. It seems in Canada and in France the convention is to hyphenate everything. You end up with thing like avenue Mont-Royal, or rue Victor-Hugo, or Stade Jean-Bouin. Even if I've been used to write or read Mont-Royal I must say I find the other exemples utterly weird. That's due to Belgium's convention not to use the hyphen. In Belgium we have stuff like boulevard Adolphe Max, or stade roi Baudouin, no hyphen there.

Now the question arises, what is used in other countries? Can I trust what I see on the web for places like in the Congo DRC? Should we apply the rules of the former colonial power, thus having Congo-Brazzaville vs. Congo Kinshasa.

Another annoying one is the French quotes. In France you seem to have to use a space around each quote so you have stuff like « guillemet en France ». In Switzerland, you don't, you simply leave no space between the quotemark and the embedded text like «guillemet en Suisse». On top of that, French conventions have spaces around question and exclamation marks as well as colon and semi-colon, but Canadian French don't.

Anyway, that was my rant of the day... English is no better with Amercian vs British conventions.

President or not President?

I'm really starting to wonder why the result of the presidential elections is taking all the attention in the Congo. The International community is asking for the partial results of the elections, but we only hear about the presidential results. What are the results of the legislatives? Why does that seem to be unimportant?

I have the feeling the Congolese media is focusing on the president only, thus increasing the tension on the topic which internation media is relaying.
From what I've read of the constitution the president seems quite powerful but the parlement, both national assembly and senate, has a major influence.
On top of that the provincial assemblies have their say too (they already pick the senators).

Is it just me or do people think the president will do everything?

After all isn't the president choosing the Prime Minister, after consulting the parliament. Isn't he the one selecting the Ministers of the Government. Can't he declare war on his own will.

The Prime Minister and the governement pretty much do everything under the President. The President makes ordonances and the PM makes decrees, while Ministers just do as they're told.

In the mean time the parlement checks all the actions of the government (with questoins, debates or commissions). The National Assembly also has the power to put down a governement or to deny its installation. This means that if the NA doesn't like the President's ministers, he'll have to come up with another one. So this far, the result of the legisltatives could be decisive too. But they are less important to a certain degree.


Visit Kinshasa (sort of)

If you're reading Kim's blog, you already know Google has some high definition satellite pictures of Kinshasa. The seem to have added them to Google Maps around last week.

Here's a frame from the Wikimapia project with all the locations people have added for the city of Kinshasa.

The thing you might want to notice is the rich neighbourhoods on the West of the city, the downtown area in the North and everything else South and East. You'll also notice Kinshasa doesn't have any highway, it only have large avenue and boulevards. It's a city of about 7 to 8 millions people, according to the last estimations. The commercial Teke villages have gone a long distance since the 17th century.