A computer keyboard is best suited to use the characters of the alphabet without using diacretics or arcane symbols. Various kinds of tricks must be learned before one can insert non-standard symbols. That adds a barrier to write in any language that uses non-standard symbols.
Many computer tools use sorting techniques that are based on the [0-0] [A-Z] [a-z] paradigm. Using special characters will render those tools useless.
The basic operations of computers are based on a 7-bit encoding. It is called "ASCII". It does not allow diacretics of international symbols. This was a problem, so the "Extended ASCII tables" were invented. The extended codes make use of the full 8 bits of a byte. (One character is represented with 1 byte. One byte consists of 8 bits.) Many different extended tables are in use. Each language or country got it's own version, called code tables. You can find the tables online at www.asciitable.com
International characters are not very interchangeable: save them in a plain text file, and if a person with another code table opens it, he/she will see other characters. Your plain text file will be mangled.
Older email servers and email programs used a 7-bit encoding for email. Support for 8 bits does exist but sometimes things will not work as expected. This can result in strange symbols in your mail.
To end all this hassle, and to support more international symbols and other writing systems, Unicode was invented. It uses 2 bytes for one character. Read more about it at www.unicode.org
Is Unicode the big solution? Unicode is often a mess because most browsers like Internet Explorer expect an ASCII encoding with a "Western" code table for extended codes. The webserver should notify the browser of the encoding, but when the document is wrongly encoded, it may fail.
So, using special characters is hard for users, and is not easy to deal with for programmers and system administrators. This will limit the support for electronic dictionaries, automatic translation scripts, and so on. It will often cause FS texts to be damaged when copied between different computers or programs.
For newbies who are not used to diacretics it is even worse. They were attracted by the FS marketing speak about an easy to learn language, but all they see is an garbage of strange symbols.
There is no need at all for diacretics, if one believes in the FS design principle of an easy to learn language. Such a language does not use all kind of weird pronouniation rules, so it can do with a very basic set of character.
Yeah, I dislike diacretics, arcane symbols, and so on. Did I make myself clear? I really hate them! But not really. I like to play with encodings and other writing systems. For example, have a look at my Runescribe. It transcribes latin alphabet to runic futhark. I had to employ some nasty tricks to use unofficial unicode codes. It can be found at this site: Taal --> Runescribe
I also like it very much if people are able to use whatever symbol or diacretic they like at the TidingKonien.com site. It is exactly in that way that people can try out ideas and experience the advantages and disadvantages of using some symbol or writing system.
Adapted from an email posting dated 2005-08-03 to the Folkspraak mailing list