Re: String name and Character Name

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Thu Apr 21 2005 - 09:22:53 CST

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    If the move is on to encourage software vendors to develop their own
    proprietary lists of "accurate" character names for character-map UIs
    and such, instead of using the official, non-perfect Unicode character
    names, it might be well to remember these two pitfalls that seem to
    resurface whenever someone attempts such a project:

    1. Character names that express meaning or purpose are not universal.

    By renaming U WITH DIAERESIS to U WITH UMLAUT, trying to make the
    character name more appropriate for German usage, the name has just
    become *less* appropriate for usage in Spanish and other languages,
    where the two dots indicate a diaeresis function rather than an umlaut
    function. Changing NUMBER SIGN to POUND SIGN based on the fact that
    Americans often call it that makes the name virtually useless for
    British and other English speakers.

    2. Whimsical character names do not add value.

    In the rush to improve LOW LINE to UNDERLINE, HYPHEN-MINUS to DASH, and
    (REVERSE) SOLIDUS to (BACK)SLASH, many users get caught up in the game
    and start referencing the frivolous, semi-humorous character names that
    appear in places like the Jargon File. People don't actually use names
    like BANG and SPLAT and SQUIGGLE in serious contexts, but for some
    reason these tend to get listed alongside the more reasonable names.
    Bernard Miller's "wildly successful" Bytext project had this problem
    (among many others).

    -Doug Ewell
     Fullerton, California

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