Re: Unicode & Han

From: Timothy Huang (
Date: Sat Aug 10 1996 - 23:41:48 EDT

Martin J Duerst wrote:
> Timothy Huang wrote:
> >Dear Michael,
> >
> >As far as my statement on Microsoft looking for other coding scheme, if
> >you can read Chinese computer news, you will know I am LIVE RIGHT. The
> >captain is abandoning the ship. Why? Because the coding structure and
> >the implementation of Unicode are DEADLY WRONG. For example, can anyone
> >tell me what is the definition of a Character? And what is a glyph? In
> >version 1.0 of Unicode book, code 337B ~ 337F, can these be called as
> >characters? If so, I can give you many more examples in Chinese. And
> >then, why the Japanese emperor's names can be coded, but not the
> >Chinese? In Chinese history, there were more than 500 emperors, some had
> >more than one name. Why the Wester Chess symbols were coded as
> >characters?, but not the Chinese Mar-jhon? Cultural superiority?
> In Japanese history, there were also over 100 emperors, and many of
> them had more than one name, but Unicode only contains premade
> combinations for the latest five of them, from the modern area.
> They are there obviously for compatibility reasons, on request of
> the Japanese delegation or some US vendor that used it in their
> Japanese system version. They are not contained in the official
> Japanese standards (JIS 208 nad 212). Obviously, there was no
> request in this direction from China or from Taiwan. Neither of
> them, in contrast to Japan, currently use emperor's names to
> count years. For Chinese Chess or Mah-jong, obviously also
> nobody made any request to include them. Unicode is not sealed
> off, you can still make a request through your national standard
> body if you can document it well enough (which should not be
> that much of a problem in these cases).
> >I think
> >the root of the problem is that the Unicoder DOES NOT understand what is
> >a character. And this is the deadly vital problem. And in my opinion,
> >until the Unicoders start to respect different culture and language,
> >they won't be able to do the coding right.
> Unicode pretty well understands what a character is. But they also understand
> that they have to consider the past, with backwards compatibility. And the
> designers of the past did not always understand what a character is.
> In addition, in China or in Japan, people have very different oppinions
> about what a character is. Even the same person can use the same word
> differently depending on circumstances, even in the same sentence.
> Among "experts", the differences may get very pronounced. It's not
> as easy as "respect Chinese culture" or "respect Japanese culture".
> Apart from this, and from backwards compatibility, Unicode does
> whatever it can to encode characters in a consistent way.
> Regards, Martin.

Dear Martin,

I understand the emperor name issue. Perhaps, I should rephrase my
statement differently. But, the problem of not containing the Chinese
emperor's name and other related symbols may has several reasons (in my
humble opinion): (1) The Chinese and Taiwaness delegates failed to
understand the significance of the issue. And they did not insist or
don't know what is international fairness. (2) Heavy hands from Japan.
(3) The Unicode people did not hold the principle rigidly by accepting
them. This opened a wide door for confusing of the definition of

On the issue of "Unicode is not sealed off, you can still make a request
through your national standard body if you can document it well enough
(which should not be that much of a problem in these cases)". Well, this
is exactly the problem. Let me give you one example: While in the
revision process of the CNS11643, I was asked by the committe chairman
to submit my questions in writing. So i sent them 22 questions. However,
after two years later, I checked with the chairman to see if he got my
questions, he told me that he never got that. So I called the CNS, and
the lady told me that they have the right of NOT answering my questions.
Until today, I am still waiting for the answer from them. If the
national body from Taiwan listened to the coding experts from the very
beginning, we won't have this kind of problems. Dirty politics were used
during the past to a point that some professors of the Chinese Character
Analysis Group were almost sent to jail, just because they included the
simplified characters in the CCCII. Currently, III and TCA and CNS are
still placing us in their "black list". On the other hand, they are not
experts on the subject matter, but just politician. Now, from a private
citizen's point of view, where can I go to? Even if I have that much my
own money to participate the meetings over the world, I still won't be
admitted into the meetings. Please don't get me wrong, I do have very
strong respect to the Unicoder. They do a much much much better job than
Taiwan CNS, III and TCA. Their efforts must be recognized. The
unfortunate thing is that Unicoder is dealing with the wrong people in
Taiwan and to certain extend in mainland China. And the end result is
that the real users do not have any way to express their opinion to
Unicode people. One other thing -- Taiwan is not recognized as a country
internationally. She does not have any official or formal says in the
ISO or related organizations. So, how can Taiwan people and scholar to
express their opinion? Thru mainland China? Then, only what they like
will go thru, the rest will be filtered out by politics.

What I am saying is this -- officially, Unicoder can say that there is a
formal channel for people to express their opinion. But, in reality,
it's almost impossible. And that's the reality and fact we are living in
now. Now, how to make the international body aware of these problems?
The way I am doing is to make it well know worldwide, so something can
be done to correct this. Mr. Glenn Adams said that I'm making "small
noises". Yes, this is exactly what I am doing. When there is enough
"small noises" accumulated, the dam will break. And that's how Chairman
mao won. I hop you can understand my point of view -- I don't want to be
the bad guy just like you, but, if thru my small noises can make
somebody out there aware the issues in Chinese computing, I think my
efforts will not be in vain. And that is my contribution.


Timothy Huang

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