Re: Possibilities of future expansion (from Perception etc thread

Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 09:54:58 EST

On 02/25/2001 08:01:38 PM "Joel Rees" wrote:

>I know this has been hashed over time and time again, and the answer has
>been handed down as if by edict time and again, but _your_ attitude as
>expressed below is taken by many who are not involved as rather arrogant.

Michael and I don't always see eye-to-eye, but I back certainly him on this
one. His statement is not arrogant. It is merely fact.

>many people, it seems like the UNICODE has taken in hand to define
>itself. The explanations, no matter how well founded, sound to ordinary
>people like slick lawyers trying to cover up something baad with legalize.

Like it or not, Unicode is the property of the Unicode Consortium and its
members, not ordinary people. Clearly, ordinary people have an interest in
its development, but it will benefit them only as the members of the
Consortium deem to provide service to them. Now, this sounds cold and
legal, and that's really not necessary. The members of the Consortium have
it in their best interest to provide good service to ordinary people -
that's how they earn their living.

Personally, I think the PUA is a wonderful compromise. I know a linguist
who is helping a minority language group - population probably under 1,000
- in literacy and related efforts. He has experimented with a novel
character to indicate certain tones. It's not clear now whether his
invention is a good idea or not, and whether it will stick or not. This
kind of thing does not yet deserve to be encoded - not until its use is
well established. In the mean time, the whole world doesn't need to know
that he has encoded his character in a certain way. On the other hand, he
does need some way to encode his character, and he needs to be able to do
it without redefining a codepoint to which his software and fonts already
attibutes certain meaning and properties. He also needs a way to
interchange data with others with whom he works. The PUA as currently
defined does exactly what he needs.

>This is why I wrote earlier to sugest that the standard should focus on
>commonality rather than universality. Rather than trying to hold the
>standard for _all_ characters under one organization, hold the standard
>a small, workable subset under the organization, standardize a method for
>groups external to the organization to register their own sets and
>(necessarily partial) mappings into the common set, and let the people
>closest to each language take their own good time about registering.
>The smaller approach will meet less resistance, be more flexible, and take
>less time.

It may well meet less resistence from some but not likely from implementers
who no longer know which additions were well thought out and represent
significant user communities. As someone interested in seeing the standard
cover several characters and scripts that are in use today among minority
language groups but that are not yet in the standard, I don't see how the
process you're suggesting would be helpful. In fact, I can think of reasons
why it would be problematic. I don't see serious problems with the existing
process. The bottleneck is not with the committees involved as much as it
is with bringing expertise on Unicode and implementation issues together
with expertise on the characters and scripts in question. I question
whether the process you suggest would really take less time and still yield
good results.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>

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