Re: Chinese FVS? (was: RE: Cuneiform Free Variation Selectors)

From: John Jenkins (
Date: Tue Jan 20 2004 - 15:24:53 EST

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    On Jan 20, 2004, at 11:04 AM, Mike Ayers wrote:

    >         Ummm - if this simplified form were used at all, wouldn't it
    > already be encoded? 

    Not necessarily. Because new simplified Chinese forms can be created
    by applying a known set of rules to traditional Chinese forms (as in my
    example), it's possible for a book/magazine/whatever to have a custom
    font with a such a simplification.

    > Isn't there a process for getting such encoded? 

    Yes. You submit a character to the IRG, which checks that it doesn't
    already exist. It's then voted on by WG2.

    > Has this process broken down, or have some of its assumptions been
    > shown invalid?

    Neither. There are literally thousands of TC forms for which a SC form
    is theoretically possible and goodness knows how much printed matter
    where they may (or may not) occur. It's the same as for all Han --
    it's a *huge* set, and an exhaustive list of all the characters/glyphs
    used simply does not exist.

    >         Huh?  You forgot the part about "the font designer psychically
    > already knew how Mr. Turtle draws his name and encoded the glyph for
    > it, even though he had no reason to know that it would ever be used"
    > part of the sequence, if this is to work. 

    The UTC publishes a list of glyphic forms which are to be represented
    via variation selector. A font vendor can go to the list and see what
    is possible. They can choose to support it or not. If they support
    it, fine. Otherwise, Mr. Turtle has to live with it. It's the same as
    for all variation selectors.

    This whole process is controlled. Mr. Turtle doesn't get to go out
    there and suddenly declare that *his* name is written with
    such-and-such a base form/variation selector.

    > I don't mean to be harsh (and I know that I probably am anyway), but
    > this sounds more than a bit like a magic wand to wipe away all the
    > free variants that occur in Chinese usage.  Are you saying that there
    > is a known limit to the number of character variants, and that there
    > is an establishable correspondence between these variants such that a
    > logical connection between a variant and one of a set of FSV is
    > possible?  

    No. There is a formal list of established variations. That's as far
    as it goes.

    >         Did "represent newly discovered characters" creep into the
    > mission statement of plain text when I wasn't looking?

    No. It's always been there.

    >         Should I be hitting the archives?  I've been gone awhile, and
    > I don't want to retread this if its already been treaded.

    Perhaps you need to review p. 397 of TUS. That's where variation
    selectors are discussed.

    John H. Jenkins

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