09 August 2006


In writing the blog entries on Childhood Memories From D Block, I sprinkled Vietnamese in VIQR format. VIQR stands for Vietnamese Quoted-Readable and was developed by the Viet-Std Group. The Vietnamese language uses ABC letters just like English and other roman languages, but it makes much use of diacritical marks to denotes the various sounds and intonations. The grave (`) and acute ( ' ) diacritics may be familiar to those who know French, as in voilà and touché. Spanish-speaking folks may recognize the tilde ( ~ ), as in mañana. In the phrase above, which means Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom, every single word has at least one diacritical mark, except just the last word. To show the a with the grave accent, the e with the acute accent, and the n with the tilde, I had to use numeric entities in the HTML language. For example, à is composed of an ampersand (&), a pound (#), the number 224, and finally a semicolon. That's way too much work if one is to try to type a lot of Vietnamese text. These days many computers may be equipped with some fonts compatible with Vietnamese, but back in the early days when the Internet became widely available for the public, that wasn't the case. VIQR allows the representation of Vietnamese with nothing more than the standard ASCII characters, which is somewhat equivalent to whatever you see on your standard keyboard. No need for special software, Vietnamese fonts, keyboard driver, or input method. In VIQR format, my sample phrase would be

Kho^ng co' gi` quy' ho+n dd0^.c la^.p va` tu+. do

It takes a little time to get used to VIQR, but it's simple to learn and that's the beauty of it. I'm writing this on a PowerBook running Mac OS X Tiger (10.4). It comes with Vietnamese input method so I can easily enter

Không có gì quý hơn độc lập và tự do.

I can see the phrase correctly in Firefox, on my own computer, but there is no guarantee it will not appear gibberish to someone out there on the Internet. Thus VIQR is the way to go when you want to ensure your Vietnamese message reaches the widest possible audience.

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