RE: Encoded rendering instructions (was Unicode's Mandate)

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Wed Mar 09 2005 - 16:43:36 CST

  • Next message: Dean Snyder: "Re: Encoded rendering instructions (was Unicode's Mandate)"

    On Tue, 08 Mar 2005 21:27:03 -0500, Dean Snyder wrote:
    > By the way, I forgot to mention that we would need at least one more
    > rendering instruction character - a RESTORED FROM PARALLEL PASSAGE
    > character, which simply means what its name says - this damaged character
    > can be restored based on its presence in a parallel passage. (I
    > specifically stated "at least one more" character, because the actual
    > issue gets complicated by other factors such as the state of preservation
    > of the character in the parallel passage and by the locus of the parallel
    > passage itself - e.g., is it elsewhere in the same text or in another text?)

    As you have not made yourself clear to me what exactly the "one small subset of
    epigraphic features" you are proposing as "as a candidate for encoding", I will
    restrict myself to the concrete example of the RESTORED FROM PARALLEL PASSAGE
    character that you mention.

    As it happens I have to hand an apposite example of a conjectural reading based
    on parallel passages, and its representation in a printed book (see
    <>. In this
    example of a Chinese oracle bone inscription from about 3000 years ago the same
    textual formula is repeated several times for different dates, and the editor
    has been able to fill in any gaps by reference to the parallel examples. The
    conjectural readings are indicated in the modern Chinese transcription by means
    of an enclosing square around the supplied ideograph.

    In my opinion, having a mechanism for enclosing a CJK ideograph in a square box
    to indicate a conjectural reading, as in this example, is within the scope of
    Unicode, as it is representing a graphic feature of the textual transcription
    (and the fact that it symbolises a conjectural reading is neither here nor
    there). Having a mechanism purely for representing metadata information about a
    character is not. Such a character would be neither a graphic character (would
    such a character be necessarily visible ?) nor a format character (would it
    necessarily affect the layout or format of the surrounding text ?), but
    something entirely new to Unicode.

    And where would it all end ? There are many reasons for supplying a conjectural
    reading for a missing character in addition to the internal evidence of parallel
    passages, including (most obviously) textual context, evidence of other versions
    or editions of the text, quotations from the text in other works, parallel and
    source texts, etc. etc. Are we to have separate characters for each possible
    reason for supplying a conjectural reading ?! And if we are to have characters
    to indicate that a particular character is a conjectural reading, why not
    characters to indicate that a particular character is written in red ink, or
    that it is bigger than the surrounding characters, or that it is underlined.
    Hmm, let me think, just maybe because all these are outside the scope of plain

    Anyway I'm dropping this thread now, because it's a waste of everyone's time. If
    you want to fantasize about Unicode turning into a metatext protocol, then go
    ahead, but it's never going to happen.


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