15 September 2006

In the beginning was the 8`(@H

According to Pope Benedict XVI in his lecture on Tuesday (the one the Muslims are upset about).

The quote is on the Vatican website.

The HTML is rubbish. The line in question contains the text "8`(@H", wrapped in an HTML font element with a face attribute of "WP Greek Century".

The document is not xhtml - indeed there is no html version declaration of any kind. There is an http-equiv="Content-Type" meta element specifying "charset=iso-8859-1"

In other words, the content is published as 8`(@H, in an 8-bit latin character set, with a font requested that would display those characters as greek letters. Since I do not have that font, I get the latin characters.

The file should have had a charset specified that included the proper Greek characters. I might still not have seen them, if I have no suitable font, but I would have been in with more of a chance. Also, the pdf file on the BBC website would probably not have perpetuated the error, since it can include fonts and handle more than latin characters. Since it was presumably produced from the bad HTML, it dutifully reproduces the 8`(@H.

If I were in charge of the Inquisition, the penalty for causing the Vicar of Christ to misquote the first verse of the New Testament would be pretty damn severe, I can tell you.

Update: They've fixed it.

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