The first thing to make sure is that your LanguageEnvironment is set up correctly.
The second thing is to make sure you have all the fonts installed. A good test is to check whether the HELLO file displays correctly (especially using the characters you are interested in). Use
‘C-h h’ to display the HELLO file.
If that does not work, you will have to get the missing InternationalFonts.
Next, you should check that you are able to switch coding systems at will, even if you intend to use mostly one character set (this is an UTF-8 world out there, better be prepared to it!). All modern Emacsen can use a different coding system for every buffer, but the feature might be blocked by the contents of your InitFile.
1. Create an empty file (with Emacs itself or otherwise).
2. Quit Emacs and restart it anew.
3. Type `C-x <RETURN> c’, type in “utf-8” and `<RETURN>’, then
‘C-x C-f’ and enter the adequate path to open the empty file created above. The lower left hand corner of the current frame should display something like
U:, indicating that the current file is interpreted in Unicode by Emacs.
4. Type a few characters in the buffer, and make sure to mix characters from inside the basic ASCII range (e.g.
‘A’, ‘2’) with others outside it (e.g. accented Western letters like `é’, Chinese characters…)
5. Save the buffer and close it. Now repeat step 3, but instead of “utf-8” type “latin-1” when asked. You should now see
1: in the lower left hand corner of the frame, indicating that the buffer is now interpreted as Latin-1 by Emacs.
Latin-1 is a single-byte character set unlike UTF-8, so what you are (or should be) looking at now is sort of a “source dump” of your utf-8 file created at step 4: characters from the basic ASCII range are unchanged, and characters outside it are translated into multiple bytes that Emacs now renders as different characters from the latin-1 range in a way you may already be all too familiar with (e.g. “é” becomes “Ã©”).
If the above test does not work, you will have to do one or several of the following:
(setq-default enable-multibyte-characters 1)
If it works, then congratulations! You just learned just enough to start using Emacs in a multi-lingual fashion. Namely, the command `C-x <RETURN> C’ followed by the selecting of a coding system, will impose said coding system onto the next command you type (typically
‘C-x C-f’ a.k.a find-file, but this could actually be anything else). Take the time to get used to it, then visit the rest of the CategoryInternationalization page for more tips and tricks.