Re: SECS & VSECS: Small European Character Sets

From: Marion Gunn (
Date: Tue Aug 18 1998 - 08:02:27 EDT

Because I have been out of the country (working hard on language codes,
etc., for ISO/TC37!) I have missed some of the current debate.

However, I gather, from a quick glance through a mail backlog of 100s of
messages awaiting my return, that Markus Kuhn of Cambridge University has a
new proposal to replace MES-1 with an alternative (now called VSECS) which
would exclude the dotted consonants which are an intrinsic part of the
national requirements of my country.

I hope that that is not actually what Markus means to propose, but, just in
case it might be, I am sending this quick msg, for the attention of Chris
Makemson, in strong opposition to any moves to exclude the dotted
consonants we need.

With best wishes,
Marion Gunn

Markus Kuhn wrote:
> Michael Everson wrote on 1998-08-15 11:18 UTC:
> > As the editor of a Commission-funded project to develop one or more subsets
> > of the UCS, I must protest again, that Markus Kuhn, who has been
> > participating in the CEN Workship WS-MES, has published the "SECS" and the
> > "VSECS" without the consensus of European and other experts actively
> > working in this area.
> >
> > It may be the case that, with or without modifications, the subsets Markus
> > has described will be adopted by the Workshop.
> >
> > Despite the fact that Markus has named these as "European", they do not,
> > however, reflect European consensus and may not meet European requirements.
> I apologize for using the term "European [TM]", which according to the
> tone of this posting apparently is a registered trademark of Michael
> Everson and the CEN Workship on Multilingual European Subsets, and which
> therefore must not be used under any circumstances in any context by
> private mere mortal inhabitants of the Continent of Europe [TM] without
> prior written permission by Michael Everson.
> Seriously,
> I *never* ever implied in any of my postings about SECS/VSECS that they
> represent anything agreed upon by the CEN WS-MES, and therefore, your
> "protest" is, sorry, a bit childish. The SECS/VSECS proposal is
> completely my own (unfunded) volunteer work, the major input were
> existing published ISO standards and published literature on European
> character set requirements. I even used completely new names for my
> proposal to make clear that they are my personal projects and not
> CEN-MES work.
> I might have implied that I personally consider the drafts the CEN-MES
> workshop has produced so far is not yet very satisfactory (and I do not
> have the impression that I am completely alone with this opinion). Of
> course I will continue to represent my technical opinion in various
> mailing lists.
> I do propose to the CEN-MES workshop my SECS/VSECS proposals in the
> presented or modified form as a candidates for standardization. I
> equally offer them to any other interested organization, including
> Unicode Inc., JTC1, ECMA, IETF, etc., for further discussion and
> potential adoption. I believe that wide discussion of the various subset
> proposals on the usual mailing lists will make it more likely that the
> end results will not only have the formal consensus of some
> Commission-funded committee but will also meet real user requirements.
> Why do I want to have some independent discussions about European [TM]
> Unicode subsets going on outside CEN-MES?
> I do think that some influential CEN-MES linguistic experts occasionally
> represent a bit extreme or at least very academic requirements for
> extremely narrow linguistic applications without realising all the
> consequences for implementors and users. I also got the impression that
> the CEN-MES results were already a priory fixed politically to conform
> to certain standards that I think are of close-to-zero practical
> relevance (namely ISO 6937 and ENV 1973). This led to IMHO somewhat
> bizarre results such as that the current MES-1 draft does not contain
> the Euro sign, the directed quotation marks, and is not even a superset
> of ISO 8859-1, and that MES-2 contains many digraph characters that make
> fixed-width font implementations extremely ugly and cause encoding
> ambiguities. Therefore, I was not entirely convinced that I will like
> the final outcome of the CEN-MES (but I will be delighted if I shall be
> proved wrong here). The current CEN-MES requirements might be quite far
> from the requirements of most other computer users, and some independent
> competition I think is very healthy. Therefore I want to get some
> feedback from a broader user community than from just a few committee
> linguists (some of which have in my purely personal opinion repeatedly
> demonstrated a disturbing lack of experience in broader practical
> computing issues). Is that really inappropriate?
> Markus
> --
> Markus G. Kuhn, Security Group, Computer Lab, Cambridge University, UK
> email: mkuhn at, home page: <>

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