Polyglot Emacs 20.4

A look at multilingual Emacs.
Help from Other Programs

Finally, for JE work, Emacs is not alone. As planets circle the sun, I surround Emacs with several programs that help me figure out the Japanese or Chinese source text or that aid in delivering it in a form demanded by a client. My assistants include the following:

  • Sumomo: a parser of Japanese syntax (no mean feat in a script where there are no spaces between words)

  • Kakasi: a converter of kanji into kana or Romaji (see Figure 5)

Figure 5

  • Xjdic: Jim Breen's JE Dictionary which, beside being extremely useful as a dictionary, is a splendid example of a collaborative, Net-based project (see Figure 6)

Figure 6
  • Bookview: a front end to ndtp, a server of Japanese electronic reference books (see Figure 7)

Figure 7

Also available are many nifty GNU or GPL-licensed programs that circumambulate the Linux kernel and can be called into service at a moment's notice, such as ls, wc, grep, xdiff, telnet, ftp, wget and fvwm2. Finally, there is Mozilla, Star and Corel Office, ApplixWare, the American Heritage Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary.

Whatever your arrangement, to be productive it must be consistent and persistent, i.e., for a certain task (like CE or JE translation) you must be able to recreate the same arrangement quickly. I have an init.hook file configured so that these applications all start up when I start fvwm2. By renaming it, I can immediately set up a different desktop for a different task. (See Figure 8 for one possible layout of a translator's desktop.)

Figure 8

With Emacs 20.4, we have the first version of GNU Emacs that is equipped to function as the main tool in a multi-script text worker's workshop.


Jon Babcock lives on the old family homestead in Montana, far from the maddening crowd, studies karma and dharma and kanji culture and, when necessary, translates Japanese for pay. He started using GNU programs and Linux in 1992. He can be reached via e-mail at jon@lotus.kanji.com.