Re: MES as an ISO standard?

From: Markus G. Kuhn (
Date: Wed Jul 02 1997 - 13:44:42 EDT

Adrian Havill wrote on 1997-07-02 06:20 UTC:
> I wrote:
> > For example, Java started out being Unicode and barely supported past
> > the ASCII range.
> Markus Kuhn replied:
> > Yes, leaving lots of confusion. Am I allowed to use combing characters
> > in conforming Java variable names? Will they link to precomposed
> > characters? The specification says "Don't know".
> What? Did you just make that up? The "specification" does not say "don't
> know"-- on the contrary, it is very clear about this.

Ok you are right, I probably read this in an earlier draft of the spec
where this was clearly not addressed. I am glad they got this right now!
Thanks for your comment.

I just read the latest specification and they have even been very
careful about defining what characters are allowed in a identifier
for instance they have not allowed the dangerous zero-width spaces.
But the length of section 20.5.16 shows how much work it is to
specify a reasonable subset, and many other authors of specifications
are probably not as careful as the Oak spec authors have been.

> I won't ask "can it support ISOwhatever."
> I'll ask, "Can it support the languages French, German,
> Esperanto and Itallian using Unicode?"

Specifying a language is not a precise definition of a Unicode
subset. For example, you certainly know that there is a lot of discussion
going on, on whether ISO 8859-1 supports French, as the oe ligatures
and the capital Y with diaresis are missing. I can also argue (and this
has been done by many other before) that ISO 8859-1 does not support
German well, because the low quotation marks are missing. Others
will tell you that Unicode 0000-00ff supports borth French and German.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Science grad student, Purdue
University, Indiana, USA -- email:

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