Re: Devanagari

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Thu Jan 09 1997 - 04:55:39 EST

At 02:39 -0800 1997-01-09, unicode@Unicode.ORG wrote:

>While I know nothing about Devanagari, Unicode, especially amongst the
>people using languages which use Han characters, suffers from a lot of
>bad PR... probably because the amount of people that understand is quite
>The previous page I mentioned goes so far as to seem to imply that
>Unicode will cause the extinction/bastardization of non-European
>languages! He also implies that Unicode was designed by people that know
>nothing and/or are insensitive about non-European languages.

This is nonsense. Expertise in the UTC and WG2 is very high. As a WG2
member I have some philosophical differences with some people in the UTC
(mostly about overdecomposition of alphabetic letters), but the level of
competence and expertise in our committees is generally unmatchable.

You can't bash Unicode without bashing ISO 10646. And ISO 10646 is an
international standard with strong support from the National Standards
Bodies of China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam....

And there isn't anything better! It's not perfect. We're working on that.

>In constrast, I find relatively little info rebutting or responding to
>this. If you were to ask the average computer-literate Japanese what
>they thought of Unicode, they would say this about 80% of the time: "Oh,
>you can't mix Chinese and Japanese Kanji together. That's not good."

My understanding is that this is a font issue which can be handled by
language tagging. But I am no expert in Han. Only an interested amateur who
has had to learn how the script works to use a dictionary and type Chinese
on my Macintosh.

>This is because: a) I can't find or have not read any PRO-articles about
>Unicode for Han character-based languages, and b) the Unicode Standard
>2.0, and it's similar specs (JIS X 0221--the Japanese version of ISO
>10646) are too big, too expensive, and too mind-boggling). For a
>developer, it's a valuable resource. For a end-user whos deciding
>whether they want a Unicode-environment or not, it's like reading the
>Websters Unabridged in order to learn English.

I'm afraid I don't follow this.

>Q: If I use Unicode to do Japanese, will the kanji I type be transformed
>into simplified Chinese characters when I send it to a Chinese computer
>using Unicode. If they send Simplified Chinese back to me, will the
>characters be transformed into Japanese-simplified characters?

This is a font issue. If the characters have been unified then they aren't
transformed into anything. Even if the Chinese glyph for a given character
is different in usual Japanese environments, a code position is a code
position. No data is lost or transformed.

(I guess the same could not be said for software that automatically
decomposed letters with accents....)

>Q: What is the chance of Unicode not having the Han character I need for
>a current/modern Chinese/Japanese surname/given name/word? Are there
>characters I can enter on my JIS/Big5/GB set that I can't enter in

I think all those standards are already included. There are of course tens
of thousands of more characters yet to encode.


Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire (Ireland)
Gutháin:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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