Re: Unicode & Han

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Aug 14 1996 - 17:04:48 EDT


> Prof. Huang's comment on characters caused by errors brings me to conclude that
> for Chinese at least radical composition in necessary. How else can we provide
> for erroneously written ideographs?

I generally agree with you, but the traditional (>2000 years) Chinese
lexicographic method of dealing with erroneously written ideographs
is to catalog them in huge lexical compendia which themselves get
reprinted and commented on, and collect errors which are reprinted
and commented on, and collect errors which are...

The upshot of this is that you end up with "characters" in major
dictionaries and in the fonts to print those major dictionaries which
started out as errors in some printer's wood blocks from 427 A.D.,
for example.

The even worse problem is that in Taiwan even today, people are
deliberately modifying characters to create name characters. (The
ideographic equivalent of people spelling Lisa as Leesa, Leza, Leeza, Lise,

So in the end, we will have no choice but to have a very large list
of characters to satisfy the scholars, plus a composition method of
Han ideographic character parts to deal with the edge cases, plus
a residue of nonce name characters which cannot even be dealt with
by the composition method.

--Ken Whistler

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:31 EDT