Re: Kana and Case (was [totally OT] Unicode terminology)

From: Thomas Chan (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 19:19:05 EST

On Wed, 22 Nov 2000, David Starner wrote:

> On Wed, Nov 22, 2000 at 11:39:53AM -0800, Thomas Chan wrote:
> > On Wed, 22 Nov 2000 wrote:
> > > I like "Astral Planes" better.
> > > Will they include INUKTITUT VIGESIMAL DIGITs?
> >
> > I don't. I write in Cantonese and some of contents of Plane 2 are very
> > much down-to-earth for me. Are you a musician? If so, then Plane 1 would
> > be important to you, too.
> What does importance have to do with it? A lot of societies would regard things
> astral as much more important than things earthly. I personally read
> supplimentary as a 'suppliement' i.e. an add-on, not essential. But that's just
> me. I think you're reading too much into it.

"Astral" might be okay, but for many people, "astral plane" conjures up
images of metaphysical or things of science fiction, and suggest they are
to be taken less seriously.

> Personally, I don't dislike supplimentary because of any connotations it may or
> may not have, but instead because it's one of the clumsy words this field is
> littered with: internationalization, localization, supplimentary.

Whether we like it or not, "supplementary" is the official term now, just
like the use of the term "ideograph" or "letter".

> > Throwing around terms like "Astral Planes", whether official or not, will
> > just engender lack of credibility for Unicode, which has already happened
> > to some extent among people who heard about some "Klingon" (in the Private
> > Use Area) in Unicode.
> Yes, I can see how a bunch of characters created by people to name their horses
> getting added to Unicode could cause a loss of credibility. Or am I getting
> something confused here?

I think a bit, yes. Those characters for names of horses (or individuals)
aren't fictional like the Klingon alphabet. There already are some in
the BMP for names of horses, such as U+9A04, U+9A4A, U+9A2E; or
individuals such as U+66CC, btw--but probably included on the basis of
being in legacy character sets as of the early 90's. In time, some of
them, such as U+66CC, have become used by more people than the original

I personally don't agree with frivolous racehorse names, but the bulk of
the CJK Extension B in Plane 2 isn't stuff like that, but characters that
have withstood at least the test of being included in large dictionaries
and encyclopedias of the last few centuries.

(I'm curious to know the codepoints of those racehorse names, and if any
actually made it into Plane 2.)

> How about this - Unicode judges characters by their usefulness and the
> principles set forth in Chapter 1 of the Unicode standard, instead of looking
> down on some languages and users and considering them inherantly less worthy?

I don't disagree with those principles, but it is clear that what is in
the BMP occupies a first-class position until and if support for non-BMP
areas comes--e.g., a few of the things mentioned on this list include
support in Java, capacity of TrueType fonts, UTF-16 encoding, etc. If
Planes 1 and 2 are not implemented because people think there are only
nonsense personal ideographs there, or stuff only of interest to
"unprofitable" academics, then that in turn harms the users of living
written cultures, such as Cantonese, who do make use of them. (If
they were in the BMP, then I could be using them today, with even software
written years ago, but alas that is not the case. I know I can use
the PUA now, but even that is second-class because of lack of
standardization by definition, exclusion in sorting and character
properties, etc.)

Thomas Chan

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