Re: Perception that Unicode is 16-bit (was: Re: Surrogate space in

Date: Sun Feb 25 2001 - 20:04:58 EST

In a message dated 2001-02-25 16:02:11 Pacific Standard Time, writes:

>>> An alphabet is a type of writing system, something that is implemented
>>> a particular language. Certainly Latin is the name of a language while
>>> Roman is not, and so "Latin alphabet" is correct while "Roman alphabet"
>>> would not be.
>> Counterexample: The "Cyrillic" script is used to write Russian, Bulgarian,
>> Serbian, Ukrainian, etc. This is an especially useful term precisely
>> there is no "Cyrillic" language, and so the term does not favor any one
>> language over others.
> In practice, though, just as the "Latin alphabet" actually means the
> English alphabet, the "Cyrillic alphabet" most often refers to the
> Russian alphabet.

Peter had responded to me privately about this, to clarify that he was
talking about scripts rather than languages. A *script* like Latin or
Cyrillic typically has many more characters than any one language will ever
use. An *alphabet* is, by definition, language-specific. Thus there are
English, French, German, Latin, etc. alphabets, each of which is a subset of
the Latin (or what Peter would prefer to call Roman) script. Similarly, the
Russian, Bulgarian, etc. alphabets are subsets of the Cyrillic script.

In practice, of course, Erland is correct. I use the term "Russian alphabet"
to non-specialists when I am really referring to the Cyrillic script and not
just the Russian subset, and I would not be surprised to learn that the term
"English alphabet" is used in a similar way among those whose native language
uses a script other than Latin.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:19 EDT