Re: comment on Unicode insufficiency for 75000 Chi Chars

Date: Sat Aug 10 1996 - 12:48:36 EDT

Hi -

  In response to the following message:

>Hi All,
>I saw this message posted on Would anyone
>like to respond?
>Forwarded message of 8/8/96 7:37 PM begins here.
>>From: Timothy Huang <>
>>Subject: Unicode, Cure-all or Kill-all?
>>Date: 7 Aug 1996 18:51:22 -0400
>>Hi, there,
>>By reading some of the mails/instructions/letters on this mailing
>>list, it seems to me a serious problem exists in the computer
>>industry -- the blind leads the blinds.
>>If you look carefully on Unicode/ISO10646, you will find that this is
>>a political compromise, not a real solution to solve the world wide
>>character coding issue. Let me give you just one simple example --
>>there are 75,684 or more Chinese characters now. How many
>>characters a two-byte coding structure, such as Unicode, can hold?
>>As a matter of fact, the number of ideographic characters in Unicode
>>is less than half of KanShi Dictionary (1716AD) which contains
>>49,188 characters. Furthermore, Unicode does NOT even contain the
>>characters for all the known chemical elements, 110 by now. Go Tell
>>chemists to use Unicode! There are many many more vital errors like
>>this in the Unicode.
>>From (this) Chinese point of view, Unicode is NOT a savior, but a
>>killer to the Chinese culture. That's why in the Far East, it did not
>>any acceptance, except some US software companies are trying to
>>shove it down to the Chinese throats.
>>By the way, recently, it just comes to my attention -- Microsoft is
>>looking to a other solution for the character coding issue. Don't waste
>>your time to write anything for Unicode now and then find out MS
>>already abandoned the ship. I think finally MS reallized that Unicode
>>is a dead end without any practical usability. But to save their face,
>>they may still preaching the gospel of Unicode.
>>Professor Timothy Huang (of Chinese Computing)
>>54 KuangFu South Road
>>Taipei, Taiwan, ROC
>>Tel/Fax: 886-2-577-0536
>Forwarded message ends here.
>Smita Desai
>International Engineering
>FTP Software, Inc.

   I do not imagine that this is a wide-spread feeling in Taiwan.
Professor Huang's message is consistent in content and rhetorical
style with a group in Taiwan that advocates a 3-byte encoding
standard. Although there are not _now_ over 75,000 Chinese
characters, some estimates of all variants of all characters used
in the thousands of years of Chinese history are that large. It
may perhaps be in the interests of a library or research institution
to have a character set that large, but otherwise, the extent of
Unicode coverage is fine, as it contains more Chinese characters
than other current standards.
   There is a book published by this group (perhaps Professor Huang
himself--I don't remember) 4-6 years ago by a Singapore Scientific
Publishing group; the title implies that the book examines Chinese-
Japanese-Korean computing, but it is primarily Chinese, and primarily
a sales job for the 3-byte system. It may be worthwhile to pick
up if for no other reason than amusement at its frequent calls to
an extreme Chinese nationalism, claiming among other things that
the binary system used in computers is based on Ying and Yang and
that Chinese computer scientists will not succeed in programming
in languages developed by Yankee Yuppies.

Mark Lewellen
Georgetown University

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