CJK, ME, and “Asian”

What does Asian mean?

What does the word “Asian” really mean? This is actually not just some random rhetorical question, as just a while ago I found (via ProZ) that in the UK — at least among the older population —, the word “Asian” means “Indian”. As a Canadian, this naturally came as a total shock to me, as the word “Asian” does not have such a connotation here. In fact, in Canada (and on the Internet at large, as far as I can gather) the word “Asian” often means “East/Southeast Asian”.

In the computing world, I’d say the word “Asian” also has an “East Asian” connotation: That is, it often means “CJK” (Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean). This is certainly the case with the way Adobe uses this word.

Oddly, as an ethnic Asian — an ethnic Chinese even — I do find this troubling. Asia is not just China, Japan, and Korea. It is not even just these places and Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. It is not even the above plus India. Iran is part of Asia. So is Israel. In fact a large part of the Middle East is in the Asian continent!

ME vs Asian: Should large software firms know better?

So why does Adobe offer us an “Asian” version of its Creative Suite (CS), and then offer us a separate “ME” (Middle Eastern) version of the same? Worse, the ME typographic functions seem to be non-existent in the non-ME versions, so if I get an ME document and I don’t have an ME version of CS all I see will probably be mojibake

Is Adobe aware that in parts of China, the Arabic script is used?

Is Adobe aware that in Toronto, Canada, the city government routinely publishes pamphlets with short paragraphs of Chinese text alongside short paragraphs of Arabic and Persian?

Is Adobe so uncreative that it thinks that bilingual Chinese/Hebrew books will never exist? Or bilingual Japanese/Arabic pamphlets?

In 2011, when even simple text editors that come with Windows or MacOS X know that Hebrew and Arabic are written from right to left, why do Adobe’s offerings of “professional” typesetting software still lack the basic ability to typeset right-to-left languages from right to left?

To me, real “Asian” versions should be able to handle both CJK and ME.

What is a graphic designer in Canada to do if his or her client need to do a poster with bits of Hebrew, Arabic, or Persian text?

What is a translator in China to do if his or her client requests a DTP job with a translation into Hebrew, Arabic, or Persian?

Adobe, you fail us all, Asians and non-Asians alike.