Re: Unicode and Han

From: Timothy Huang (
Date: Mon Aug 12 1996 - 08:14:23 EDT

Dear Edward,

Thanks for your 2 letters. However, I don't understand the first
paragraph of your first letter. Is that supposed for me?

>Edward, actually, or better U+9ED8, U+96F7. (Don't you wish we had Unicode
>mail? Note for the Unicode list: Perhaps we should apply to Alis Software
>in a body to be testers for their Unicode E-mail product when it gets
>Chinese and a few other languages. I'm sure we could do some serious damage
>to their preconceptions. I think I will go ask them.)

When Apple get the Copland finally release, the Chinese version probably
will take another 6 months to 1 years. And that's a conservative
estimation. Actually, with the Apple WorldScript, the CCCII/EACC can be
implemented as a different country code. Perhaps after Microsoft release
the EACC/CCCII in September, Apple MAY do something (I guess). However,
this does not mean that Apple is not supporting Unicode anymore. Unicode
and EACC/CCCII are not a game of winner-takes-all. They can co-exist
peacefully together. What I have suggested to Apple is to open this
door, and let the users make his/her own choice.

As far as joining the Taiwan Standard group, I tried, but failed. The
"gang of four" (CCAG) professors tried too and failed too. Too much
dirty politics involved.

I'll fax you the article when I find it. I promise.

I have no right to "object" whatever Unicode does. I just say that
Unicode did not follow it's own definition of character in the selection

>It is certainly true that the lack of imperial names shows a cultural bias
>among the Communist regime on the mainland. Is that what you mean?
>Well, of course there is no difficulty making one. I don't need it myself,
>but I can suggest some font vendors who have Western chess fonts and might
>be interested in it, and also Chinese, Korean, and Japanese chess fonts.
>Ishi Press, Yutopian, and other publishers of books on go (wei-chi, padook)
>and Asian chess could certainly use them. I don't know who publishes on Ma
>Jong, but I know there are some.

Well, about MaJong, do you know during the past, it was considered as an
evil gambling instrument and was banned by both Chinese governments? My
childhood neighbor was taken by the policeman. The point I want to say
is not the MaJong itself, or why the chess was in. The same goes for the
emperor's names. These are not the main issues, but just the examples.
The key point is are they "characters"? If not, why they take up so many
precious coding spaces? If yes, then, what's the definition of
character? Unicode has a relatively good definition of character. But,
during the implementation, this principle was not hold rigid, too many
non-characters slipped in. And that creates confusions.

>Please take another look. The rich American companies are there because
>they put in their money and promised to use Unicode. Other companies can
>join on the same terms. But the rich American companies aren't defining
>Unicode except by contributing expertise (Huan Mei Liao of Apple, for
>example). Scholars of languages and experts in implementing script systems
>on computers are defining it. There has been considerable input from
>Chinese scholars worldwide, and from Chinese experts in software. See the
>acknowledgements pages v-vi in Unicode Standard 1.0 Vol. 1. The Principal
>Investigator for Han unification is Dr. Yang Xiao-jie. The National Library
>of China also participated. Since you are involved in a character set
>standard, you could join this effort and be in the kernel yourself.
>You could ask Apple, IBM, Adobe, Acer or a number of other companies for a
>grant to cover your expenses. Or for a full-time job. There are many other
>possibilities for funding.

I think, a better way must be found. Standardization shouldn't be
a rich guys' game, and should have only the qualified persons to
participate. Perhaps, internet is a good choice. And this can be done in
several stages. For example, the first stage can be just an open meeting
for a period of time (1 month, 2 months?), anybody can voice his/her
opinion(s). In this stage, plenty of discussions can take place.
Debates/challenges/proposal/counter-proposal, etc., should be
encouraged. Then, in the second stage, the voting members from each
country will then vote, based on what they read from the stage one. Of
course, this is just a thought for everybody to think about.

Regarding to my book, It was published by World Scientific (Singapore),
ISBN 9971-50-664-5. I think you still can find it in some university
bookstores or libraries.

One other point, regarding to the Unicode's "The Unicode standard
version 1.0 does not encode rare, obsolete, idiosyncratic, ... or
private-use characters." In other languages, this principle may work,
but for the Chinese, hay, it's very tough. Let me give you one real life
example: A very famous golf player in Taiwan, her name contain this
"rare" character (Chin2, U+7434 "piano" but without the bottom parts
[dot and bend], it's the ancient form of the modern Chin2). This
character is not in current Unicode. If I want to write her a letter, or
send her a bill, what should I do? You may say that I can make that
character and glyph in my private zone. OK. I did that. She must already
did that for herself too. However, the chance is that this character
will have two different codepoints. When she receive my e-mail, her name
will be changed. Is that acceptable when you can NOT even 'spell' the
name of the persoan you are sending the letter to? We, not matter who we
are, have no right to change other people's name, or call someone wrong
name-- this is what I was tought. Think about the legal ramification of
this can cause. If IRS get someone's name wrong, can IRS collect the tax
money? Can the Justice department execute someone, if his/her name get
mixed up? (That's a different person, sir.) Things like these are not a
joking matter. Rare, obsolete, idiosyncratic, ..., or priviate-use
characters are absolutely necessary if the Chinese society will continue
to function. Oh, well, someone may say that the government may "advise"
people NOT to use these characters, but how about the existing ones and
the historical persons. Can we change their names? Can we go back to
histroy and have that person change his name? Statistic of the frequency
of the usage of Chinese characters is only a reference, it should not be
the absolute deciding factor in the selection process. Do you know in
Taiwan, population of 21.3 millions, how many different characters are
used in people's names and addresses? Some government figures tell us --
more than 60,000 !!!!!! This is one of the major problems of the
government Censor Automation Project -- it tooks more than 10 years now,
and spent billions of NT $$$$. Information interchange definitely shall
include sending people letter by computer. Do you agree? My good friend,
Professor Lun, Kwei-Ming, who did a great deal of ancient literature
automation, of Academia Sinica for Social Studies (Beijing) sumed up
this way: You can do all the statistics you want, and say such and such
character is "dead", but when you need that character, that character
becomes 100%. I wonder if Unicode people understand this point? I hope
they do soon.


U+9EC4, U+5927, U+4E00

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