RE: Multiple Directions (was: Re: Coptic/Greek (Re: Phoenician))

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 15:16:46 CDT

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    > > The extent of directional layout required of a
    > > *plain text* standard is the bidirectional
    > > algorithm, which sorts out how a (horizontal) *line*
    > > of text is laid out when text of opposite directions
    > How did you decide that 'horizontal' is the default
    > direction? My impression is that 85 - 95% of *all*
    > elements of writing ever invented by humans are
    > Chinese (or other ..JKV...).
    > Does 'horizontal' actually come from hardware, not
    > software? Is it built into the computer screen?

    Ken's reference to horizontal may, I think, have misled you. Lines of
    text, whether horizontal or vertical, are presented in rectangles. A
    vertical rectangle can be considered a rotational variant of a
    horizontal rectangle, so we can simplify the discussion by talking about
    one kind of rectangle. Since pretty much all information systems support
    the horizontal orientation, but not vice versa, and since the intra-line
    direction issues that have most often confronted us have pertained to
    normally-horizontal scripts, that orientation has been taken as a
    default for the sake of discussion.

    Now, given that rectangle (whatever its orientation), Ken is saying that
    that's the level at which Unicode needs to address directionality
    issues; anything else is the problem of higher-level processes or

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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