Re: ISO 10646 compliance and EU law

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2005 - 06:49:58 CST

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: ISO 10646 compliance and EU law"

    On 04/01/2005 23:40, Kenneth Whistler wrote:

    > ...
    >>In discussions a few months ago about a controversial proposed new
    >A cute way to reintroduce the argument about Phoenician to the

    No, Ken. I do not want to reopen discussion of Phoenician in this forum.
    I deliberately avoided using the name so that no one would think I did.
    I just want to clarify an issue concerning the Unicode (and by
    implication 10646) conformance clauses, in the context of the alleged EU

    > ...
    >If and when Phoenician characters are encoded in the standard,
    >nothing in the standard, whether in the conformance clause or
    >elsewhere, will force anyone to use those characters for
    >representing Phoenician (or Punic or Ancient Hebrew) texts. If they
    >are used to using Modern Square Hebrew *transliterations* for
    >Phoenician (or Paleo-Hebrew), they can continue to do so, and
    >nobody will stop them. Nor will their implementations suddenly
    >become "nonconformant" or non-interoperable.
    I was not referring to transliterations.

    >>I was assured that
    >>there was nothing in the Unicode conformance clauses which prevented
    >>users from continuing to use such masquerading font solutions, which
    >>have of course been in existence since long before Unicode.
    >This "masquerading font solution" is a transliteration masquerading
    >as a masquerade.

    And this is what I was referring to. Let me repeat the question partly
    in your words: "If and when Phoenician characters are encoded in the
    standard, [will there be anything] in the standard, whether in the
    conformance clause or elsewhere, [which] will force anyone to use those
    characters for representing Phoenician (or Punic or Ancient Hebrew)
    texts" USING THEIR ORIGINAL GLYPHS? I was assured repeatedly, during the
    long discussion on Phoenician, that there was nothing, even when using
    "Phoenician" glyphs mapped to Hebrew code points.

    >Whether a particular transliteration can be *implemented* in
    >terms of a simple font shift depends on the nature of the
    >transliteration. In the case of Canaanite and Modern
    >Square Hebrew, well, you can set up a nice one-to-one mapping
    >of 22 letters and hack away with your fonts. In the case
    >of Egyptian hieroglyphics and Latin, the transliteration
    >relationship is too complicated to do a simple mapping for,
    >so nobody even attempts to do this with just a font mapping.
    >Instead, a full transliteration scheme is put in place,
    >together with a markup syntax, to enable shifting from one
    >to the other for a rendering.

    Certainly Egyptian to Latin is far from one-to-one. Canaanite to
    unpointed Hebrew is precisely one-to-one, apart from final forms. Greek
    to basic Latin is not quite one-to-one, but there are long-standing
    conventions, older than Unicode, for representing Greek texts in Latin

    > ...
    >If the implementer deliberately created a convention for
    >the representation of Greek using the Latin alphabet, and
    >provided a font mapped accordingly, published his conventions,
    >and encouraged you to buy his new Graecolatin Deluxe Tool,
    >then yes. Although he would have a hard time getting people
    >to buy into his peculiar text conventions, however.

    There is no need to deliberately create a new convention or get people
    to buy into it. A number of slightly inconsistent conventions for this
    have been in place for very many years, some e.g. "betacode" at least
    since the 1960's. There is a large community, mostly of scholars and
    Bible experts rather than modern Greek speakers, who have used these
    conventions for decades and continue to do so. There are several
    masquerading fonts available for support of these conventions, and these
    remain in widespread use. The situation is in fact similar for "visual
    order" Hebrew, and for Cyrillic, Arabic, Syriac and other scripts for
    which masquerading fonts are available. In fact new ones are still being
    created - just last week I received a notice of a new masquerading
    Hebrew font for use with a special software package designed for support
    of Hebrew with masquerading fonts. Such packages are still being sold,
    and actively developed I think.

    Is it, I am wondering, the intention of the EU to outlaw such special
    font packages? And does the alleged legislation in fact do what it is
    supposed to do, or are these packages and fonts in fact 10646 conformant
    although they don't use 10646 character codes for non-Latin characters?

    >Nothing in the standard prevents people from using it
    >to create arbitrary ciphers, nor even wackos from coming
    >up with off-the-wall transliterations or worse from one
    >form of text to some other form. Or from implementing
    >the same by means of silly mappings in fonts. If you share
    >their wacko text conventions, then you can use them
    >to your heart's content, while still using the standard
    >conformantly. If I want to send you Biblical texts
    >represented in a Yi cipher that gets rotated on a daily
    >basis, nobody is going to stop me or you from engaging
    >in such silliness.
    Ken, you are being needlessly offensive here by calling "wacko" and
    "silly" what people are actually doing, what they have been doing since
    before Unicode ever existed and some of them are continuing to do while
    ignoring Unicode. But here you seem to confirm that these people can
    continue to do what they are doing indefinitely, totally ignoring
    Unicode and 10646, but their lawyers can still claim conformance to
    Unicode and 10646. If that is true, it seems to me that what is "silly"
    here is the Unicode conformance clauses, which are so weak as to be

    >>And would it be acceptable to the EU?
    >Rhetorical question, right?

    No. I don't expect you, Ken, to be able to answer it, but maybe others
    on the list who see themselves as spokespersons for the EU can hazard an
    answer. What, if anything, does the EU intend to enforce? That still
    seems very unclear.

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)
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