Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: Mark E. Shoulson (
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 21:23:06 CDT

  • Next message: Mark E. Shoulson: "Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?"

    I can't believe we're still arguing this.

    Peter Kirk wrote:

    > On 24/05/2004 05:47, Mark E. Shoulson wrote:
    >> ...
    >> We've been through this: it isn't about who's the majority. If the
    >> majority wants one thing and there is a significant *minority* that
    >> wants the other, Unicode has to go with the minority. Otherwise we'd
    >> just all stick with US-ASCII. Unicode is supposed to be universal,
    >> not a servant of the majority alone.
    > Well, I have two points here:
    > 1) If a *significant* minority wants a proposal which doesn't have
    > adverse effects on the majority, fine. But I question whether just two
    > or three supporters is *significant* enough for a separate standard
    > encoding rather than PUA.

    We mentioned this. We don't have "one or two." Our informants must be
    construed as representing some chunk of the populace, if only because
    they know the people they'll be communicating with. These folks don't
    work in a vacuum, they have colleagues with whom they correspond, and
    it's not unfair to assume that they have some idea of what would and
    would not be helpful in those correspondences. We have a sampling, and
    some say X and some say Y. It sounds to me like that means some people
    in the community believe X and some believe Y, not "two or three believe
    X and all the rest believe Y." Who's to say the three or four we've
    heard from on the other side aren't the exceptions? That way lieth madness.

    > 2) If group A supports a proposal which will have *adverse* effects on
    > group B, then, in my opinion, the proposal should only be accepted if
    > group A is significantly larger than group B.

    Perhaps, but the adverse effects in question, if they exist, are not
    incredible hardships. It's no worse than what group B *ALREADY DEALS
    WITH* so plainly it's not going to make life impossible for group B,
    since they haven't been driven to extinction yet. And I'm not even
    completely sure that's true in general. Unicode is supposed to be
    *universal*. If group A gets something it needs that it can't otherwise
    have, then the "costs" to group B are the price we pay for being
    universal. Otherwise, we should have stuck to US-ASCII, since after
    all, moving away from that is a pain.

    >> You can't have it both ways: if, as you admit, there are likely to be
    >> a fair number of people who will use Phoenician ...
    > I have never accepted this position. I have seen no evidence that more
    > than two or three people will use Phoenician. But that still means
    > that some people will use it and confuse things for everyone else.
    > It's just like Klingon. You and a few others wanted to use it. No one
    > else did. But if it had been defined and your small group had started
    > to publish widely with it, it would have made things more difficult
    > for those who preferred Klingon in Latin script. For example, they
    > would have to do double searches of the archives of Klingon
    > publications for the articles they wanted.

    And we'd deal with it.

    >>> I don't claim an overwhelming majority. But even if it is only four
    >>> to three, that is still a majority.
    >> Four to three is an excellent reason to listen to the three. Or else
    >> we could all just take a vote and see if CJK or Latin should be the
    >> *only* alphabet we encode. After all, the others are just
    >> minorities. And you're telling me you're not being elitist? Listen
    >> to yourself.
    > I have listened to the three, or mostly to one of the three (and a few
    > people like you who support him but are not users) patiently and
    > repeatedly for the last month or more. All I have heard are the same
    > unconvincing arguments and appeals to his own authority. There is no
    > consensus that this Phoenician proposal is necessary. I and others
    > have also put forward several mediating positions e.g. separate
    > encoding with compatibility decompositions and with interleaved
    > collation, also encoding as variation sequences, but the only response
    > I get amounts to "No, because Phoenician is a separate script, because
    > I say so and this is the right thing to do".

    So you're saying, then, that "Some people *think* they need this, but
    they don't, so they can't have it"? It's obviously not so completely
    clear, since there's plainly disagreement on the issue. I've studiously
    tried to give reasons beyond "It's just different, deal"; I'm sorry you
    haven't accepted them. In the end, though, it really *does* come down
    to whether or not you see it as a different script, and it's clear that
    that's a subjective judgement.

    >> Besides, this is hardly a representative sampling. I'm sure both
    >> sides could find more supporters; nobody's polled the entire pool of
    >> Semiticists in the world (and even if they had, as you said yourself,
    >> there are non-Semiticists who will use Phoenician--*and their needs
    >> must be considered too*). There is no reason to believe that the
    >> minuscule sample we've seen in any way reflects the actual division
    >> of opinion, except that we *can* assume that our informants do not
    >> speak only for themselves and thus there is at least some support on
    >> both sides of the issue.
    > Agreed. Several people have tried to get broader input, but with
    > little success because few on either side understand the issues.

    So the numbers are meaningless. Four to three might well be 100 to 100,
    or it might be 100 to 3, or 4 to 100... "Majority" and "minority" are
    meaningless at this point since we don't actually know what the majority
    is. It's just something both will claim is on its side

    >> I can't believe you're saying that four scholars vs. three scholars
    >> means we have to disregard the needs of the three; I'm completely
    >> flabbergasted by that.
    > I am not disregarding the needs of the three. But the three, or one of
    > them, insist that the needs of four (and probably considerably more)
    > must be disregarded, and won't even discuss mediating positions. And
    > they aren't even the majority. I'm completely flabbergasted by that.

    And we mentioned this. See the top of the document: if there is a
    significant minority, then Unicode should lean towards encoding more
    stuff rather than less, in the interests of universality, against the
    advice of the majority.


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