Re: Questions about diacritics

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Thu Sep 16 2004 - 10:39:30 CDT

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    Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya dot org> wrote:

    >> That is to say, the benefits of creating a separate character to
    >> disunify the diacritic-carrying function from SPACE are certainly
    >> real, but so is the likelihood that people will confuse its
    >> functionality with that of ZWSP and ZWJ and ZWNJ and ZWNBSP, and
    >> invent bizarre combinations thereof.
    > Most technological advances bring with them the possibility of misuse,
    > but that is a poor argument to reject the advances. In this case, if
    > there is a danger of confusion, the correct way to handle the issue is
    > to explain the correct functions clearly in the text of the standard,
    > with a summary in the glyph table. The Unicode consortium cannot be
    > responsible for people breaking its clearly stated rules and so
    > confusing themselves.

    The potential disadvantages, as well as the potential benefits, always
    need to be considered when evaluating a new character request.

    In the case of INVISIBLE LETTER, it seems likely -- based on the
    comments of experts -- that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
    But new control characters (and quasi-controls like IL) have tended to
    cause more problems and confusion for Unicode in the past than new
    graphically visible characters. The possibility of misuse has to be
    evaluated, and the rules do have to be stated clearly. Combinations
    involving IL plus SPACING ACCENT, or IL plus ZW(N)J, or whatever, should
    be part of the rules; what effect should such combinations have, and are
    they discouraged? For IL, that is probably good enough.

    LATIN SMALL LETTER AT is another matter; the disadvantages *greatly*
    outweigh the benefits. In this case, it is not enough to document the
    intended use of the new letter. Malicious end users (nobody in this
    audience, of course) will deliberately play on the visual identity of
    '@' and '@' to confuse and trick Internet users. Security experts who
    love to criticize Unicode for the set of confusables already in
    existence will have a field day. The possibility of misuse is so great
    in this case as to constitute an excellent argument to reject the

    -Doug Ewell
     Fullerton, California

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