Re: Nice to join this forum....

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Tue May 04 2004 - 10:57:08 CDT

From: "Doug Ewell" <>
> The danger of encoding novel characters on speculation that they might
> be useful is that if they *don't* turn out to be useful, or if a revised
> version of the orthography replaces them with something else, Unicode
> and 10646 are stuck with unwanted characters, which cannot be removed
> for stability reasons.

This depends who is making such proposals. When a non-governmental organization
gets some support from a UN institution for education (UNICEF for example), some
studies may be started to create or stabilize an orthograph, create a
dictionnary, guides for a language grammar or for its translation. Phonetics of
endangered languages becomes then important to help maintain this language in
its litterary form.

Some languages have quite unique sounds, but could look ugly and uneasy to teach
if it uses too many diacritics or symbols from an IPA notation. Today it seems
reasonnable to promote the adoption of an alphabet based on existing alphabets,
but avoiding digraphs can be a requirement, at least for the initial promotion
of the litterary form of the spoken language. Also, the importance of
surrounding languages in the same area may ease the transition for teaching the
local language using the same letters if possible, so that the minority language
gets a more immediate support by educated people in that country that are manily
taught another official language.

So there are reasonnable cases where it is desirable to borrow some "lateral"
conventions on letter forms but to respect also the uniqueness of the language
to represent with an orthographic system based on a new alphabet. To achieve
this goal, some letters need sometimes to be "invented" by modification of other
existing "near" letters.

When such program succeeds, some representative books will be published with
that orthograph, and the most useful ones will be for educational purpose
(including religious sacred books like Bible and Quran, if they can be
translated accurately into the minority language, as religion is a good
motivation to incite people to get litteracy, and get themselves a correct
reading of the true text, and then use their litteracy knowledge for commerce,
local economical development, or preservation and transmission of their

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