RE: Shina (was RE: A basic question on encoding Latin characters)

From: Reynolds, Gregg (
Date: Wed Sep 29 1999 - 16:56:33 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Everson []
> Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 1999 12:05 PM
> It isn't necessary. Of course computer technology can be seen
> as a tool of
> linguistic imperialism. However, I think the benefits far outweigh the
> disadvantages.

I'm not sure I got my point across; it's not that malfactors will use
Unicode to do their dirty work (I don't generally cotton to conspiracy
theories), but an issue of unforeseen and possibly unforeseeable
consequences flowing from the design of the technology itself. Not only is
looking for such consequences a more challenging excercise, it might lead to
improvements in Unicode.

Aphorism for the Unicode age: "The road to hello world is paved with good
intentions." Needs another pun, I think. "...spammed with...?" Nah.
Somebody come up with a multi-lingual pun.

> >which would presumably be used here. But suppose our pals
> in Shinaland
> >(somewhere in Pakistan/India/Afghanistan) are like our
> correspondants in
> >Chechnya, and they insist that such digraphs be treated as
> single letters.
> Well, there's a difference between Latin ligated letters in
> Chechenia and
> Arabic ligated letters in Pakistan (where most of the Shina
> live) because

Actually I wasn't thinking of the forms, but of their syntax. I had
accented or otherwise graphically modified latinate forms in mind as a
comparison. I guess we could perform the same thought experiment in
English: what if anthropologists discovered a "new" tribe of symbolic
analysts in, say, Philadelphia, who insisted that the digraph "th" be
treated as a single letter? (Okay, it would have to be a "special" h, to
distinguish letter "t+special h" from the two letters t and h, as in
boothill; exactly analogous to aspirated stops in Urdu.) How would that
differ from letter+diacritic? As it happens Urdu conceptualizes such
"characters" as two letters, Hindi as one, but humour me and assume that the
Shina insist all such digraphs be encoded as single characters. And they
posses a stockpile of, say, nuclear toothpicks. Obviously it wouldn't be
very hard to define the set of single characters with a decomposition
mapping to the digraphs. And I would love to formulate a sharp question for
you, but I gotta go back to work now. Maybe later.

> and Viet Thai.) In fact I suppose you and James Agenbroad and
> I could work
> together offline and figure it all out in short order. As far as time,

Gregg Reynolds gladly accepts Michael Everson's kind offer and will contact
him offline. ;)



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