Re: String name and Character Name

From: Edward H. Trager (
Date: Tue Apr 12 2005 - 13:03:55 CST

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    > But whether the name is meaningful or not, it is not going to change
    > because it cannot be changed because of stability agreements between
    > Unicode, ISO and other organisations. If it could be changed, I don't think
    > you would find any opposition to changing it -- no one *wants* the standard
    > to include incorrect and meaningless things --, but it is a practical
    > impossibility. There are other things in the Unicode Standard that some of
    > use would dearly love to see changed -- things that are, in practical
    > terms, more important than character names because they affect character
    > ordering and other implementation issues --, but these are covered by the
    > same stability agreements as the names, and we have to accept that they are
    > not going to be changed.
    > John Hudson

    In as much as no one wants the standard to include incorrect and meaningless things, then
    I think it is perfectly reasonable to contemplate changing incorrect and meaningless names.
    But perhaps we can conclude that it is not a high priority on the agendas of the relevant parties.
    For anyone to say, "it cannot be changed and won't be changed" without a very good explanation
    of *why* it cannot be changed just sounds like some sort of hubris in this mailing list, probably
    not intended, but that's what it sounds like.

    Of course international standards can be changed. Originally, a kilogram was the mass of a cubic decimeter
    of water. But in 1889 it was redefined using a platinum-iridium kilogram prototype. Now there are
    efforts to define the kilogram in terms of the number of atoms of some element or another. This is of
    course just one example of an international standard that can, and has, changed. Of course it hasn't
    changed very often, and not by very much either. But it has changed. I'm sure we can all think of other
    examples, perhaps many better than this one.

    But even if the mis-named and mis-spelled characters in the Unicode Standard are not changed, there really is
    nothing stopping me (or you) from displaying what I believe are more correct names for these characters in some
    website, software, or document that I might write. Johannes Bergerhausen's "Decode Unicode" project
    (prototype at ) would be a good forum where individuals can contribute clarifications
    of how these mis-named characters should more properly referred to. In this case, common best practices can make up
    for imperfections in the standard itself.

    -Ed Trager
     Kellogg Eye Center
     University of Michigan

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