Re: Public Review Issue #27

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon Feb 09 2004 - 19:12:42 EST

  • Next message: Rick McGowan: "Re: Unified Canadian Syllabics"

    Peter C opined:

    > >Well, perhaps there is a step that's needed to propose representations
    > >for the alternate positions of meteg, one of these making use of ZWJ or
    > >ZWNJ (whichever) and to get UTC to approve that so that it's formally a
    > >part of the standard and, hence, an interoperable representation.

    and Peter K queried:

    > I was always a bit confused about this aspect. I understand that there
    > is a bit more to using ZWJ/ZWNJ in this way than a private decision; but
    > it is one which has already been proposed and implemented by several
    > font providers. But I was told a few months ago in effect that Unicode
    > doesn't specify such things because they are the spelling conventions
    > for individual languages. Where is the boundary between an
    > "interoperable representation" to be agreed by the UTC and a spelling
    > convention to be left to individuals?

    It's a grey area in this case.

    The Unicode Standard should not step into the area of standardization
    of spelling conventions and orthography.

    However, in the case of format controls like the ZWJ and ZWNJ
    there *are* no natural spelling conventions outside the context of the
    Unicode Standard, and the use of such controls has to be specified
    at least to some level of detail in the standard for their usage
    to be interoperable.

    But this shouldn't be either a consideration of "turf" nor
    something to be decided on a priori or logical merits.

    The desired effects are:

    A. That all users of Biblical Hebrew know, understand, and use the
    same spelling conventions for representation of meteg in
    Unicode text data.

    B. That such conventions not violate, knowingly or unknowingly,
    some architectural constraints of the Unicode Standard that
    could cause problems and surprises in implementations.

    C. That designers of fonts and/or rendering systems buy into
    the conventions in such a way as to properly display the data
    using such spelling conventions in widely available fonts
    and systems.

    What the UTC just did was to take care of item B, to formally
    eliminate the ambiguity in the standard that was causing
    doubt about whether ZWJ/ZWNJ could occur in the middle of
    a combining character sequence. Implementers are now on notice
    that such a sequence is expected and interpretable, and should
    implement accordingly. There may be some shakedown difficulties
    as software adjusts, but at least we know where we're headed

    It sounds like the Biblical Hebrew font providers are already
    bought in on item C, but it wouldn't be appropriate for
    the Unicode Standard to try to enforce particular approaches
    on them in any case.

    That leaves item A. And it is mostly a matter of determining
    what is the best mechanism for getting people to know how
    they should "spell" the metegs with the minimum of confusion.
    Putting something in the Unicode Standard might be appropriate,
    or there might be better venues to document the conventions.


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