Re: Klingons and their allies - Beyond 17 planes

From: Mark E. Shoulson (
Date: Fri Oct 17 2003 - 09:28:53 CST

John Cowan wrote:

>Jill Ramonsky scripsit:
>>It seems a simple enough case to argue - EITHER the 0x110000 character
>>space is amply big enough for everyone, as John Cowan asserts.
>Big enough for everyone, but not for everything. Encoding Klingon has
>a cost beyond the allocation of codepoints: proposals must be written
>(taking time away from other proposals that need to be written), committees
>must deliberate, facts must be checked. Most of that work had already
>been done for Klingon, as it's a dirt-simple script, much more so than
>Latin, to say nothing of Hebrew. But it's a precedent.
Doesn't *everyting* take time from other proposals? Maybe we should
close this list down and stop taking more proposals, because of this
"cost." I thought that doing this very work was what the Unicode
Consortium was created for.

>>[I should stress at this point the Klingon script /is/ used by the
>>peoples of the Earth, right here in the 21st century].
>Well, in fact the people who use it most are the _Star Trek_ set designers,
>and they use it not to write Klingon, but purely as a design element.
>There are many glyphs that appear on the show that aren't used in the
>standard mapping.
But there are people who DO use the characters in the mapping, and use
them to write Klingon.

>> The fact is that Klingon language publications,
>> by and large, use the Romanized transcription presented in The
>> Klingon Dictionary. This is arguably a chicken-and-egg situation,
>> but nobody argued that point successfully to the relevant Unicode
>> committees. /
>I don't think for a moment it's a chicken-and-egg situation. Klingon
>is written in the Latin script in essentially all running-text (as opposed
>to decorative) instances of its use. If it were c-and-e, the script could
>still be written by hand -- though it must have the worst ductus of any
>script ever devised, and would probably be writable only with the
>assistance of a set of rubber stamps.
Not so. OK, yes, it IS so that the script is hideous and if it were a
natural script I'd say it could only have evolved from stamping. But
there *are* people who use it in handwriting, who keep journals in it,
who write notes to one another... (I'm not one of them, in general, but
there are Klingonists who do). I'll see if I can get you some names and

It *is* a c-and-e problem, as I've said just now. We *can't* send email
or make web pages in Klingon: I've tried, and even with Mozilla (a
generally standards-compliant browser) the PUA doesn't work as it ought
to, and if it did it wouldn't matter since the PUA by definition isn't
meant for information interchange.

>>It seems to me that if 0x110000 codepoints isn't a big enough space to
>>fit in the Klingon alphabet (and other alphabets which were similarly
>>rejected) then we need more codepoints.
>That would be true if Klingon had been rejected for lack of space. It
>wasn't. It was rejected for inappropriateness in other respects.
None of which have ever made sense to me.

>(BTW, Michael, I can't agree that Klingon script is a cipher for Latin.
>The mapping is to Klingon phonemes, not Latin letters as such.)
Hebrew's also a cipher to slightly augmented Latin, didn't you know
that? Hebrew scholars for decades/centuries have used a standard
transcription of Hebrew into Latin script plus diacriticals. So the
Hebrew text is also expressible as Latin. Yes, the mapping is to
phonemes, not letters.


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