Re: not font designers?

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon Nov 08 2004 - 06:47:20 CST

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    At 12:04 +0000 2004-11-08, Peter Kirk wrote:

    >No, my desire is that informative, explanatory text should not give
    >misinformation and obfuscation. Note that I was not actually arguing
    >for character encodings to follow this informative text, but for the
    >text to be changed to match the reality of character encodings and
    >the apparent decision of the UTC

    No different decision has been made by the UTC or WG2. I have tried
    to put into words

    >to encode scripts on the basis of significant nodes rather than
    >semantic distinctions.


    This red herring which you have said over and over again is really
    irritating. Cyrillic is not different from Greek or Latin because of
    "semantic distinctions". There are no semantic distinctions which
    separate ANY script from ANY OTHER. Every Brahmic KA, KHA, or GHA is
    semantically identical to every other Brahmic KA, KHA, or GHA.

    >And I was pointing out that many people, including an important
    >group of Semitists, who (at least from your perspective) have
    >misunderstood the situation are only following what they have read
    >in informative, explanatory text in the Standard.

    Peter, we have tried to explain this to your particular group of
    Semiticists, important or not, and you none of you have actually
    heard what we have said, because you don't WANT to, I suspect.
    Indeed, you have harped on this "semantic distinction" point over and
    over, as though you could force us not to encode Phoenician because
    of this legalistic little point.

    Other Semiticists have understood, and approved what we are doing. At
    this point, I can't say that I care a fig any more whether you or Ms
    Keown or Mr Snyder are happy with Phoenician. It is right to encode
    it. It is wrong to consider it a font variant of Hebrew.

    >>ARABIC LETTER SHEEN is a different letter, and a different
    >>different letter, and a different character, from ORIYA LETTER KA.
    >>PHOENICIAN LETTER NUN is a different letter, and a different
    >>character, from HEBREW LETTER NUN.
    >The first two, yes by definition, because they are in the Standard.
    >The last one, only provisionally because it is subject to an ISO

    No, in the real world, these things are different. We encode them
    because they ARE different. They are not different because we encoded

    >Is this the position of the UTC? Or does the UTC hold that your
    >"significant node" scripts are semantically distinct, although you
    >disagree? Or does the UTC not in fact accept your principle that
    >"significant node" scripts should be encoded, despite their decision
    >on Phoenician? Perhaps this should be clarified first.

    I, an expert in the world's writing systems, who has worked for a
    decade encoding scripts and managing the roadmap and all, have tried
    to explain that we have always been encoding according to the science
    of the study of the world's writing systems. Whether the text of the
    standard supplies enough text to make you comfortable or not is not a
    priority for me. Perhaps Ken Whistler and I, in our abundant spare
    time, might try to wordsmith the standard with regard to this issue.
    But your insistence that some legalistic interpretation of that text
    will determine what is and what is not a script is tiresome.

    >Well, I thought we were agreed on at least one thing, that the
    >distinction between Phoenician and Hebrew should not be described as
    >"semantic distinctiveness". And since, according to an informative
    >part of the Standard, p.15, "semantic value" is the only criterion
    >for a distinct character, it is hardly surprising that people are

    A distinct character is not the same thing as a distinct script, and
    the Standard is not the Law with all the world's answers in it.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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