Re: Surrogate points

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Sat Feb 05 2005 - 13:30:24 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Surrogate points"

    At 11:55 AM 2/4/2005, Hans Aberg wrote:

    >So Kenneth Whistler ... clearly does
    >not understand the topic at discussion and its context, and there is no
    >point in commenting on that any further. Just a few examples:

    In my reading, it is abundantly clear that Dr. Whistler does understand
    what he is talking about, in contrast to some of the comments he's
    responding too in that post.

    >Kenneth Whistler:
    > >Heat on the list is caused by behavior of participants on the
    > >list, not by the scope of the Unicode Standard, nor by stability
    > >requirements imposed on that standard.

    I would tend to agree with that assessment.

    >Followed by a long sequence of aggressive attacks of his, where he time and
    >time over again states that other opinions than his own are flatly wrong
    >without further motivation. Like master like dog. There can be no doubt
    >where the problems of this list comes from.

    As the opinions in question were neither well-reasoned nor
    well-informed, I see no great reason why they should have
    carried weight.

    >Kenneth Whistler:
    > >Bypassing the faulty logic here, I would point out that the Unicode
    > >Standard *is* used and its specifications *are* followed, rather well,
    > >in fact, by many vendors.
    >The discussion at hand was clearly about character sets in a context other
    >than supporting the needs of a few vendors. It is good to understand the
    >context of the discussion at hand before replying.

    I think that Dr. Whistler did exhibit a strong grasp of the context.
    While it's possible to engage in idle speculations ad infinitum, the
    reality is that character sets exist in the real world as a medium
    that allow implementors (vendors) to provide a means for users to
    interact with their systems. Successgul character sets require the
    active support and endorsement of both communities.

    In the context of Unicode (intended as the universal character set)
    any suggestion or proposal must indeed be considered in the light of
    whether it is likely to garner support from the (overwhelming) majority
    of users and implementers. Suggestions that don't meet this test
    make for nice day-dreams, but are of no interest to those of
    us seriously engaged in improving and extending the standard.

    >Kenneth Whistler:
    > >> I think that Unicode should focus on providing the character set, the
    > >> character numbering, and in some cases, rules for combined characters.
    > >
    > >Hans is entitled to think that, but he is wrong. The accumulated
    > >engineering expertise of the software engineers working on
    > >the standard and its implementation over the last 15 years is,
    > >in fact, what has driven the Unicode Consortium to incorporate
    > >all kinds of semantic information beyond mere character
    > >encoding repertoire into the Unicode Standard. Han's position
    > >is approximately where the Unicode founders were at in 1989, in
    > >their thinking about what the task was for the Unicode Standard.
    > >He has a little catching up to do here.
    >Kenneth Whistler is dead wrong as in the other attacks where he fails to
    >understand the context: The linguistic problems are so complicated, that it
    >wise for engineers to stay out of "all kinds of semantic information beyond
    >mere character encoding repertoire into the Unicode Standard". The
    >complaints I received in private email was that Unicode tries to enforce the
    >engineers conceptions of linguistics. So engineers should attempt to leave
    >as many doors as possible open for the experts at linguistics. If there is a
    >consensus among a wide range of linguists, then that could be made into a

    You continue to misunderstand the role of Unicode here. I answered this
    already in my reply to John Hudson a few minutes ago, so look it up there.

    > >> Also the endianess of the representation of number is languages
    > >> seems to be wrong.
    >Kenneth Whistler:
    > >May "seem to be wrong" to Hans, but is not.
    >An unmotivated statement, typical of Kenneth Whistler's style. If the
    >description I got was right, that Unicode tries to enforce that Arabic
    >numbers should not be represented in the order they are written and read,
    >but in reverse, the linguistic error is so big that the Unicode consortium
    >will make big fools of themselves in front of every person familiar with
    >that language.

    As Unicode's handling of Arabic numbers was created with the active support
    of many Arabs and other people very 'familiar with that language', none
    of which considered the Unicode Consortium 'big fools' over this issue,
    your statement is the one that's unfounded.

    > And from the point of view of computer languages, the
    >interpretation of a sequence of numbers is a parsing problem, and it is
    >strange that Unicode deals with that.

    The answer to that would be:

    a) it doesn't
    b) it's not strange
    c) all of the above

    I'll leave the answer to that quiz, as well as the rationale for his answer
    to the reader. Hint: consider my reply to John Hudson.

    Med vänlig hälsning,


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Feb 05 2005 - 13:33:38 CST