RE: Never say never

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Feb 12 2003 - 01:09:38 EST

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    Andy continued:

    > > In principle, at some point in the future, either the
    > > phonology or the orthography or both could evolve to
    > > the point where the entire constructs start to get handled
    > > as basic orthographic units (or "letters") for Bengali,
    > > but it isn't really the place of the Unicode Standard to
    > > try to push that evolution, if there is a well-defined
    > > way to represent the sequence using the characters
    > > already in the standard.
    > And the well-defined way is?

    Described in the FAQ, and to be described in the text
    of Unicode 4.0.

    > > In some respect, the problem is similar to arbitrary
    > > orthographic adaptation [...]. An
    > > example which comes to mind is using "kl'" to try to
    > > represent a lateral affricate, for example. The fact that the
    > > lateral affricate might be a phonological unit in the other
    > > language, and that it might even have a unitary letter
    > > representation (e.g., U+019A barred-l) in some other
    > > orthography, doesn't mean that if people start to represent
    > > it "kl'" in the "English alphabet" that we then have to turn
    > > around and encode a "kl'" character in Unicode.
    > >
    > The above seems to be an argument as to why the Oriya Letter Wa should
    > not have been encoded. (It is after all a modern innovation used to
    > represent the foreign sound of 'W'.

    But the innovation was a letterlike construct. Yes, I suppose
    you are correct that it could have been represented by
    a funny conjunct sequence, but that was not what its
    proposers requested, and nobody spoke for your position during
    the rather lengthy review period and ballotting.

    (By the way, it isn't the *innovation* per se that is the
    deciding issue, in any case. Most of IPA consists of
    deliberate modern innovations, for example, to represent
    specific sounds. Some of those innovations are represented
    as atomic characters, and others of them are represented via
    combining character sequences.)

    But in any case, you may be right about ORIYA WA, but if
    you are right, you are also too late to do anything about
    it, unfortunately. This kind of input is why the standards
    process is deliberately stretched out, taking years to
    get from original proposal to approved standard.

    But when the proposer of such a character is the Government
    of India, and when nobody comes up with a good argument as
    to why such a character should not be encoded until *after*
    the review process is completed and the standardization is
    done, then nothing is likely to fix it. Timely review is
    as important as correct review.


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