Re: Synonyms in Unicode Terminology

From: Rick McGowan (
Date: Wed Jan 27 1999 - 18:18:46 EST

I agree pretty much with Peter Constable's assessment, but... I wasn't
trying to be really technically precise, as I did not think the QUESTION that
was asked was really one of techincal precision in a LINGUISTIC sense, just
of normal usage by people in the context of computer standards for
characters, glyphs, and typography.

The original question did not include "writing system", which of course is
another term that is useful technically.

> In the explanation Rick gave, the term "alphabet" is used in a
> way that could be confused with "writing system",

Let me elaborate, then on my perspective. An "alphabet" is a collection of
symbols. It includes only the "phonological" or "syllabic" units and not the
punctuation, quoting conventions, document formatting conventions, and so
forth. An alphabet is a static collection of symbols, which typically
represent some form of segmentation of a natural language. A "writing
system" includes the symbols of the alphabet, but in addition includes rules
about their use, some set of punctuation symbols with rules for their use,
and so forth. A writing system can include more than one alphabet, or
script, as an element -- and always includes some behavior.


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