Re: Cuneiform Free Variation Selectors

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Sun Jan 18 2004 - 20:53:46 EST

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    Michael Everson wrote at 10:23 PM on Sunday, January 18, 2004:

    >discussion has mostly been on the Cuneiform list
    >(where it belongs) but Dean keeps coming over
    >here and trying to drum up support for his
    >ill-conceived and ever-mutating idea.

    I am not trying to drum up support for a dynamic cuneiform encoding
    model; I am trying to find out technical encoding information as to its
    feasibility. I meant it when I said, in a previous email here, "I'm still
    hoping for even more technical feedback from the Unicode community on
    this issue. I would like to be convinced that the dynamic model is a bad

    The encoding model issues at hand should not be decided by cuneiform
    specialists without broad input by encoding specialists; and it is simply
    a fact that this Unicode list has far more encoding expertise on it than
    the cuneiform list. In fact, I am not aware of a better email list to
    which to pose such questions.

    And my idea has not been "ever-mutating"; I have today the same idea for
    a dynamic cuneiform model that I expressed in my first email on the
    subject over a month ago. What has mutated is my knowledge on the subject
    and hence my terminology. This is not to say that my idea will not mutate.

    >Even the Buddha taught that anger can be useful,
    >as a tool to get through to someone who thinks
    >nothing is wrong. Well, Dean's harping on this
    >issue is wrong, and is irritating lots of people.
    >A lot. And this needs to be shut down.

    We could have saved a full month's worth of emails on this subject if you
    had only mentioned free variation selectors on day one. Did you know
    about them? Didn't you notice the connection between them and what I was
    suggesting for cuneiform? If so, why did you not tell us about them? It
    would have been great, and much less "irritating" for us all, if we had
    only been given this information early on, instead of having to ferret
    much of it out on our own.

    Only now, with my having just learned of the mere EXISTENCE of free
    variation selectors in Unicode, and having made that existence known to
    the cuneiformists on the cuneiform email list, do I feel we can
    adequately begin an, at least, meagerly informed discussion of the issue
    as it pertains to a dynamic model for cuneiform in Unicode. This is one
    way Unicode has dealt with the issue of mapping an encoded character
    sequence to single unencoded and unpredictable glyph.

    SOMEONE at SOMETIME must have thought that free variation selectors were
    a good idea for Mongolian in Unicode. If the thinking has changed on this
    since then, I would love to hear about why it has changed. Is Mongolian
    functioning well in Unicode or not? If not, what specifically in it is
    broken, or is at least sub-optimal? And what are suggested solutions for
    fixing Mongolian in Unicode if it is indeed problematic?

    Thanks for your help.


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850

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