French localization with R under Mac OS X

2008-05-13

Now that I’m working with the latest release of Mac OS X (10.5, aka Leopard), I again face the problem of the french localization of the R software.

It should be noted that I mainly use R in a simple console (the Terminal), rather than the GUI distributed with R. I must say, however, that this GUI is by far the most elegant I saw: Windows GUI is a disaster (!), and there is no GUI available for Linux; in both cases, one can use JGR or similar add-on software. But as I feel most comfortable with the command line, I decide to keep this option.

With my previous system, I have to set up a few parameters to get a correct localization. Indeed, I have to add the LANG option, which was not defined on OS X 10.4, and I happen to load it in my .bash_profile:

export TERM=xterm-color
export LANG=fr_FR.ISO8859-1

The Terminal has to be configured to accept western characters (Windows or Latin ISO-8859-1), and I configure this option although I was using iTerm instead of the Terminal application (which was lacking tabbing support). Furthermore, I have to define the DISPLAY in order to get the X11 device working properly. Here is the code I was using:

The Terminal has to be configured to accept western characters (Windows or Latin ISO-8859-1), and I configure this option although I was using iTerm instead of the Terminal application (which was lacking tabbing support). Furthermore, I have to define the DISPLAY in order to get the X11 device working properly. Here is the code I was using:

	
  1. Set the DISPLAY variable – works for Apple X11 with Fast User Switching
    if [[ -z $DISPLAY && -z $SSH_CONNECTION ]]; then disp_no=($( ps -awx | grep -F X11.app | awk ‘{print $NF}’ | grep -e “:[0-9]” )) if [[ -n $disp_no ]];then export DISPLAY=${disp_no}.0 else export DISPLAY=:0.0 fi echo “DISPLAY has been set to $DISPLAY”
    else # we already are under X11 with xterm PATH=/usr/texbin:/usr/local/bin:$PATH export PATH date
    fi

Now, with OS X 10.5, the X server is launched at boot time, so we don’t need to use it anymore. However, we still have to work around the locale because the Terminal application defaults to UTF-8. This is done easily in the Preferences panel of the Terminal app. But, we also need to tell R to use french locales instead of the default UTF-8 ones.

Sys.getlocale()

yields

[1] "fr_FR.UTF-8/fr_FR.UTF-8/C/C/fr_FR.UTF-8/fr_FR.UTF-8"

and

 
l10n_info()

returns


$MBCS
[1] FALSE

$`UTF-8`
[1] TRUE

$`Latin-1`
[1] FALSE

This can be done with the Sys.setlocale() function as explained in the R Installation and Administration manual. Finally, all get properly working after issuying these commands:


Sys.setlocale(category = “LC_ALL”, locale = “fr_FR.ISO8859-1”)
Sys.getlocale()

gives me

[1] "fr_FR.ISO8859-1/fr_FR.ISO8859-1/fr_FR.ISO8859-1/C/ fr_FR.ISO8859-1/fr_FR"

and I can again import CSV files without problems.

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