The ISO 8859 standards series

Table of Contents: ISO-8859-1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8... 9... 10... 15

For additional details on the various character sets, such as character hexadecimal values, character names, or an approximate copy, click on the corresponding table.


Jeu 8859-1

The ISO-8859-1 character set, often simply referred to as Latin 1, can represent most Western European languages including: Albanian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Faroese, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Irish, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

In its first incarnation, HTML only accepted the ISO-8859-1 character set. Since publication of a new RFC written under Alis' tutelage, this restriction no longer applies, and newer browsers, such as Tango, support the display and processing of many character sets.


Jeu 8859-2

The Latin 2 character set supports the Slavic languages of Central Europe which use the Latin alphabet. The ISO-8859-2 set is used for the following languages: Czech, Croat, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Slovenian.


Jeu 8859-3

This character set is used for Esperanto, Galician, Maltese and Turkish.


Jeu 8859-4

Some letters were added to the ISO-8859-4 to support languages such as Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian. It is an incomplete precursor of the Latin 6 set.


Jeu 8859-5

The ISO-8859-5 set is used for various forms of the Cyrillic alphabet. It supports Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Macedonian, Serbian and Ukrainian.

The Cyrillic alphabet was created by St. Cyril in the 9th century from the upper case letters of the Greek alphabet. The more ancient Glagolithic (from the ancient Slav glagol, which means "word"), was created for certain dialects from the lower case Greek letters. These characters are still used by Dalmatian Catholics in their liturgical books. The kings of France were sworn in at Reims using a Gospel in Glagolithic characters attributed to St. Jerome.

Note that Russians seem to prefer the KOI8-R character set to the ISO set for computer purposes. KOI8-R is composed using the lower half (the first 128 characters) of the corresponding American ASCII character set; the upper half of the set contains the following characters:

Jeu russe koi8-r


Jeu 8859-6 arabe

Each Arabic letter can be represented in four positional forms: initial, median, final or isolated. Arabic documents coded in ISO-8859-6 are only viewable after a type of processing called contextual analysis, whereby the characters' positions are analyzed so that they can be presented in the proper form. In addition to contextualizing, the letters must also be connected (ligatures).

Arabic writing, like Hebrew, comes from the Phoenician alphabet. The evolutionary path from Phoenician writing to Arabic is one of the most obscure. The first proper Arabic inscriptions date from 512-513 AD. Also, the Islamic prophet Mohammed fled Mecca to take refuge in Medina in 622. This date marks the beginning of the Hegira - the Muslim era. This writing, which appeared shortly before that time, became widespread thanks to the rapid and prodigious expansion of Islam during the first centuries of the Hegira.


[Jeu 8859-6]

This is modern Greek. There are no emphases, or subscripted iotas, or any of the accents of ancient Greek.

Derived from the Phoenician, the ancient Greek alphabet was the first true alphabet because its creators used superfluous Phoenician consonants to transcribe Greek vowels. The modern Greeks had the simple but clever idea of borrowing several unused consonants from the Aramaic alphabet to serve as vowels. The ancient Greek alphabet is only known to have been used from the 8th century BC onward, but Phoenician experts believe that the borrowing occurred a bit before 900 BC.


Jeu 8859-8

Finally, there is Hebrew which, like Arabic, is written from right to left.

The Hebrew alphabet is a variant of the Phoenician alphabet dating back to the 3rd century BC. Prior to that time, the Phoenicians, Moabites and Hebrews spoke a common Semitic and shared the same writing. In the 8th and 7th centuries, the language on inscriptions began to differentiate, but the alphabet remained identical. In the 3rd century BC, the Moabites began to use square characters, which that the Hebrews adopted in the 1st century BC, thereby creating their characteristic 22-letter alphabet.


jeu 8859-9

The ISO 8859-9 set, or Latin 5, replaces the rarely used Icelandic letters from Latin 1 with Turkish letters.


jeu 8859-10]

Latin 6 (or ISO-8859-10) adds the last letters from Greenlandic and Lapp which were missing in Latin 4, and thereby covers all Scandinavia.


jeu 8859-15]

Latin 9 (or ISO-8859-15) is not yet an officially adopted standard. It is a slight modification of Latin-1 that adds the Euro currency sign, as well as a few accented letters that were missing for French and Finnish. It is meant to cover the same languages as Latin-1.

Go back to home page

The Tango Multilingual Browser will properly display all of Babel's languages. © 1996, Alis Technologies inc.

Reactions? Comments? Suggestions?   Write to us.