Re: Variant locales?

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Apr 22 2002 - 15:18:52 EDT

At 11:40 4/22/2002, wrote:

>Before suggesting that one freely combine language and country codes (not
>that that will help in this particular case), I'd like to mention the paper
>I'll be presenting at IUC21, in which I suggest the need for (and propose a
>draft of) a model for language-related categories that are of interest for
>IT purposes. As it quite obvious, the distinction Deborah is needing to
>make is not language -- it's all Japanaese -- or country -- it's all Japan;
>rather, she's distinguishing between *writing systems* -- a notion that is
>closely related to but distinct from language. In that paper, I suggest
>that country is not generally appropriate for distinguishing writing
>systems (because writing system distinctions don't generally match national
>borders). Country can be relevant for distinguish *orthographies*, i.e.
>spelling conventions and things closely associated with spelling
>conventions (e.g. hyphenation), but not for distinguishing writing systems.

This raises a related topic. The codes to tag combinations of script and
(the poorly named) language system in OpenType together represent a set of
specific typographic conventions that may or may not be identified along
language lines and which are best presented to users independently of
locales (however locales end up being defined). This is, unfortunately, a
fairly late realisation among OpenType developers and the architects of the
system. Whereas the original architects seem to have assumed a fairly close
relationship between writing system and language (hence the term 'language
system'), this is now understood to be false. More recently, in discussions
with Paul Nelson at Microsoft, I have come to the conclusion that there may
be instances in which it might be desirable to tag specific sets of
typographic conventions independently of 'writing system' per se. This, of
course, depends on how one is defining the term writing system. Peter, how
do you define it? It might be possible to define the term to include
distinctions between different typographic conventions (is, for example,
English written with the long-s a different writing system from modern
English?), but it is also possible to conceive of typographic conventions
as a separate layer above writing systems.

John Hudson

Tiro Typeworks
Vancouver, BC

Last words of Jesuit grammarian Dominique Bouhours:
"I am about to or I am going to die; either expression is used."

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