RE: Unicode Cyrillic GHE DE PE TE in Serbian

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Tue Jan 18 2000 - 00:21:56 EST

I read Janko's web page and had "a few" comments.

First off, I agree with Janko's goal of avoiding the need for special
Russian-language Cyrillic fonts and special Serbian-language Cyrillic
fonts. After all, one of the most highly touted ideals of Unicode is
to make it possible to enter, process, and display different scripts
in one document without special "language packs" or different OS's.
Russian Cyrillic and Serb Cyrillic ought to be no exception.

Janko commented, "Up to now there is no known software which will
render the same Unicode characters differently if they are tagged as
text in Serbian!" True, but for that matter, up to now there is also
no software which will handle Janko's proposed additional Unicode

Remember that even if the Unicode committee members felt that the extra
character codes were a good idea (which they don't), it takes quite a
bit of time and many approval stages to get them added, and then there
is always a lag between new versions of the standard and software which
uses the new version.

In the meantime, the concept and format of Plane 14 characters for
language tagging have *already* been approved in the form of Technical
Report #7. Furthermore, they can solve not only the Serbian problem
before us, but also other problems in which the same characters need
to be displayed differently depending on the language. For example,
as I mentioned in an earlier message, LATIN LETTER A WITH ACUTE can
be displayed with a steeper accent in Polish text than in French text,
and Chinese and Japanese text can be displayed in "Chinese style" or
"Japanese style" as appropriate. Of course this is contingent on
software being developed to do this, but that is always the case.

I might add that this disproves Janko's statement that "nobody proposed
any standard which would extend over HTML boundaries." The Plane 14
technique has nothing to do with HTML, and (in my opinion) is a better
solution for that reason alone. (By that I mean that HTML is a fine
standard for Web documents, but there is and will continue to be a great
deal of plain text other than Web documents which should not have to be
shoehorned into HTML.)

Finally, it may be possible to avoid this whole issue altogether in
applications that do not require high-quality Cyrillic typography by
using oblique (sloped roman) letterforms instead of "cursive" italics.
That way neither Russian-style letters nor Serbian-style letters get
preferential treatment. I know this will not be the preferred approach
for many people and may generate some flames. The point is that not
every Unicode-enabled application will require professional-quality
rendering engines.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:58 EDT