A customer has a Russian wife (who speaks very little english, and even less Australian 🙂 ). Lately, she has been getting emails from relatives, which should be written using Cyrillic characters, but they show up as just a mess of western characters.
Since I don’t know much about this, I do some research, and find some interesting bits of information:
- an email (if written in cyrillic) should have a header field that states that the encoding is cyrillic. Thus ‘any’ email program that receives the email, should be ably to interpret the encoding field and display the correct alphabet.
- Occasionally an email program (I understand hotmail does this) will allow emails to be typed using a russian keyboard (and they will seem ok to the sender), but the email header will have the wrong encoding (western instead of cyrillic). This will stuff things up for the receiver!
- A possible workaround involves editing the email header (to correct the encoding)
- There a 4 different Cyrillic encodings ( Cyrillic (ISO), Cyrillic (KOI8-R), Cyrillic (KOI8-U), Cyrillic (Windows) )
- You can override the encoding by using the format->encoding menu (and try a few different cyrillic encodings until you find the correct one).
Once I’m onsite, I find the problem is exactly as I thought (although the wife insists on showing me websites that have programs for translating western characters into cyrillic (not needed in this case).
I first start looking at altering the header (as I’d like to automate fixing the header)… but changing the header using notepad seems to stuff up the whole message (I’d like fix it using some unix tools… but I have limited time).
I then look into the outlook format->encoding menu, and it seems to work very well… it even saves the changed encoding, so that subsequent viewings will be correct.
The only difficulty is trying 4 different cyrillic encodings, until the correct one is found (and it turns out some emails use KOI-R, while others use ISO, etc etc). So its a bit of trial and error for each email, but its the best solution given the timeframe. And she doesn’t mind some extra pre-work, as long as she can read the emails.