Re: Klingons and their allies - Beyond 17 planes

From: Nick Nicholas (
Date: Fri Oct 17 2003 - 20:26:00 CST

On Saturday, Oct 18, 2003, at 03:41 Australia/Melbourne, Peter Kirk

> On 17/10/2003 09:12, Nick Nicholas wrote:
>> ... or for that matter Meroitic" (since, as Bunz has often argued,
>> specialists on ancient languages only ever work in transliteration,
>> so the scholarly market won't use them all that much). ...
> That is not true of all ancient scripts. Some, like biblical Hebrew,
> are still in regular use by specialists as well as non-specialists.

Ah, no fair. I don't regard Hebrew as archaic, since it continues in
use; the more so since the biblical Hebrew in current use is
typographically 9th century AD --- as is for that matter the Greek in
current use. And of course, as Elaine has pointed out to us, other
archaic Semitic scripts get transliterated *into* Hebrew.

> And, as Bunz also argues in
>, other ancient
> scripts, while not much used by specialists for their actual
> discussions, are nevertheless used in quite widely in tutorial
> materials and in materials prepared for the general public e.g.
> popular historical science, enyclopedias etc.

Weeell, yes, but if we're talking raw amount of text appearing in
original script and in transliteration, transliteration almost always
wins, and by an appreciable margin. Furthermore, transliteration
doesn't force you to make determinations on what is emic and what is
etic. And this explains why specialists in Egyptian hieroglyphics and
cuneiform are reluctant to do anything with them.

I'm not disputing that there's space for archaic scripts, of course
(it's all been roadmapped already, after all); nor even that encoding
them (if feasible) is a noble and worthy effort. I have after all been
involved in preparing such proposals for Archaic and Hellenistic Greek.
I'm just pointing out that, in terms of both actual usage and
probability of a proposal gelling --- not to mention a user community
who would like to have the encoding there --- Klingon does not compare
unfavourably with Meroitic, and I think the "disrepute" consideration
was as much a consideration as the "actual use". The proof for or
against, I guess, will come if Cirth gets into Unicode.

But this issue has provoked grumbles in the past from UTC members ---
particularly when someone asked for explicit criteria on including
scripts; so like I say, whatever. Klingon's in the PUA, and that's OK.
If software can't cope with the PUA, that *is* defeating the purpose of
the PUA (two people can and should be allowed to exchange data in it by
agreement, they just shouldn't expect everyone else to subscribe to
that agreement). Unfortunately there's no block of codepoints in PUA
pushing its incorporation into software, the way Cantonese did for the
Astral Planes; but it is still a misfeature, and it is appropriate for
Mark to complain about it. Though I think the solution is to fix PUA
support, not to bring Klingon up to the ISO again...

Dr Nick Nicholas. Unimelb, Aus.;
"Electronic editors have to live in hope: hope that the long-awaited
standards for encoding texts for the computer will arrive; hope that
will be workable; hope that software will appear to handle these texts;
hope that all the scholars of the world will have computers which can
drive the software (which does not yet exist) to handle the texts (which
have not yet been made) encoded in standard computer markup (which has
yet been devised). To hope for all this requires a considerable belief
the inevitability of progress and in the essential goodness of mankind."
                                                     (Peter M.W.

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