Extension of the Han Character Encoding, ...

From: Richard S. Cook (rscook@world.std.com)
Date: Mon Jun 16 1997 - 09:21:05 EDT

Dear List members,
I would like info on recent treatments of the subject mentioned below. Are
either of these papers available?

Ken Whistler, the Technical Director of Unicode, presented
a paper titled "Unicode Approaches to the Extension of the
Han Character Encoding";

C.C. Hsieh (Xie4 Qing1jun1) of Acadmia Sinica Taiwan presented
one called Dian4zi3 Gu3ji2zhong1 de Que1zi4 Wen4ti2 "The Problem
of Missing Characters in Electronic (versions of) ancient books".

I am interested in learning more about the current state of componential
character schemes for Chinese. By "componential" I mean a logical system
to cope with the problem of an adequate (for linguists and historians)
Chinese character set being infinitely large:

a componential standard for Chinese that would allow a typographer to
design a (comparatively) few base forms ("atomic units") from which the
end user could create characters not in the present standard. This
involves determining for each character it's components and their relative
size/orientation; the user could draw from a set of known components,
scalable and positionable, to create any needed character. A descriptor
file for each character would describe each of these things, and also map
it to code points. Each descriptor file is unique, so it could be easily
collated by "distinctive features", to insure the level of variation
permissible in the standard.
Some roman TrueType fonts (for example) employ a similar technique in
adding diacritics to standard roman characters. Thus, for example,
Fontographer permits typographers to draw each lower-case vowel only once,
and each kind of diacritic only once, and create various "new" characters
(combinations of vowel and diacritic) by means of "linked references".
This can substantially reduce the ultimate font size.

Richard S. Cook
Somerville, Massachusetts USA
email: rscook@world.std.com

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