Some thoughts on encoding specialized notations: was RE: Bantu click letters

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 13:39:26 CDT

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    Any notation for a highly specialized subject would always tend to suffer
    from a very small number of participants. This is not a-priori a reason to
    force this notation into private use. One of our goals in this direction
    would be to enable publishers to support online editions of a large number
    of fields without running into a hodge-podge of supported vs. non-supported

    This issue is squarely faced by mathematicians all the time (in fact,
    mathematicians and linguists are very similar in their voraciousness of
    pressing unrelated or novel symbols into use in extending their notatins to
    new sub-fields).

    If a notational extension is very new, and not widely adopted, it makes
    sense holding off on permanently adding characters to support it -- until
    it is more widely established.

    For historical notations, issues are different. If a modern notations has
    completely replaced the historical notation, it should be treated the in
    the same manner as archaic scripts, that is, the focus should be on what's
    needed or useful to support historians of the discipline. If a notation was
    widespread before being supplanted, that would strengthen the case for
    supporting it, as the likelihood that symbols will be referenced in modern
    contexts is that much greater.

    If occasional use or reference to the historic notation can be documented,
    then it would be more appropriate to treat it like a rare script, or like
    historic additions to modern scripts, which see occasional use.

    If there's known ongoing use, or documented recent citations of older
    notation, then it's really a case of modern use of a specialized notation
    and it should be treated like that.


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