From: Edward H. Trager (
Date: Thu Oct 20 2005 - 09:58:56 CST

  • Next message: Marion Gunn: "Re: Punctuation character (inverted interrobang) proposed"

    > >>>This should be an exception to the rule of immutability of normative
    > >>>character names, because this is an editorial error that should not
    > >>>have happened.
    > >>


    > >On the other
    > >hand, someone looking for Lao fo sung could very easily pick the wrong
    > >character from a pick list - with a legible name, why bother to look at
    > >the very tiny distinction in the top left hand corner. (It's illegible in
    > >the Windows character map.) This will cause confusion for a thousand
    > >years - changing the name would only cause confusion for five years!

    I agree completely.

    The decision to make Unicode Normative Names immutable is similar
    to doing one of the following:

       -- Printing Webster's Dictionary of the English Language but having the
          publisher repeatedly refuse to fix errata in subsequent printings.

       -- Publishing a significant new scientific finding in the journal Nature,
          but then having the journal's editor refuse to publish a subsequent notice of
          errata or notice of retraction.
       -- Writing the Constitution of the United States, but not permitting
          the 13th Amendment (Abolition of slavery) or any other amendments
          crucial to the realization of a true democracy in the American nation.

    Would anyone even buy Webster's if the publisher did that?
    Would any scientist even bother to read Nature if the journal did that?
    Am I opening up a can of worms?

    The decision by the Unicode Consortium to *not* provide normative names for
    the Unified Han characters represents a precedent of either *inconsistency*
    or *amendation* in the application of the rule requiring
    assignment of normative names in Unicode. It seems that the Consortium has
    said, "yes, on the one hand normative names must be assigned, and once
    assigned they are immutable. But on the other hand, there are just too many
    Han characters, so let's *amend the rule* for the special case of Han characters
    so that we won't have to assign individual normative names to them."

    Is the argument sound?: A precedent appears to already exist where
    the rule of assigning immutable normative character names was amended so that
    normative character names are not assigned for Han characters.

    Therefore, a new *amendment to the rule* could be added to allow for corrections
    of normative names in cases of obvious clerical or editorial mistake, ... as long as
    approved by two-thirds majority et cetera et cetera ...

    The designers of the American constitution realized that amendments would be
    necessary to the well-being of a nascent democracy. Is it not possible to
    persuade the Unicode Consortium and ISO/IEC 10646 that amending the rule of normative
    name immutability in cases of obvious error is simply in *everyone's long-term
    best interest*, and not doing so is either sheer short-sightedness or plain stupidity
    which may result in the continuation of lengthy and annoying debate ad infinatum that
    hinders the otherwise excellent and important work of this standard?

    In conclusion, let me note that it is especially evident in this age of electronic
    communication that there exist very successful models of cooperative endeavour
    in which the distinctly human problem of error and the correction of that error is
    handled efficiently without the fuss and ennui of endless committee meetings, or
    even endless postings on mailing lists. For example, there is Wikipedia.

    ( Wikipedia is wide-open. It is completely *promiscuous*. So why is it growing so fast,
    and why is the quality of the articles consistently so high? Why isn't it just
    full of complete nonsense? : )

    Is it possible for all of the brilliant men and women who have brought us the Unicode Standard
    to enter *deep thought* and consider the following : Are there ways to mix the traditional
    committee-based decision-making systems used by the Unicode Consortium, ISO/IEC 10646, and
    standards organizations the world over with
    some of the novel but clearly effective methods of systems like Wikipedia ?

    - Edward Trager

    > >Are there are other routes available for reducing confusion? (...)
    > I see only one way to solve the problem, if the normative name can't be
    > changed: adding a usage notice in the standard (in the names list file),
    > revealing their effective semantic, so that no font will be made
    > erroneously, and texts or keyboards later encoded with the wrong codepoint.
    > Without such notice published with the standard itself, this standard
    > remains confusive (and given that the representative glyph is not
    > completely normative and can be changed at any time for another or less
    > confusive representation of some encoded character, users may favor the
    > interpretation given by the normative character name, hence generating
    > encoding errors...). Note that the encoding order is just a possible hint
    > of the effective letter, but it is not normative regarding collation in
    > Lao, where a tailored collation and some preprocessing is still needed to
    > manage the effective Lao sort algorithm...
    > A good option would then be to provide the effective Lao letter names using
    > Lao orthography and spelling (something that is missing anyway in the
    > standard, that just published english names that are often unrelated to
    > their actual usage; the English character names are only good in the
    > standard itself for languages sharing the same Latin script, otherwise it
    > should have adopted as much as possible the strictected rules for the roman
    > transliteration from the most common language using that script, and for
    > the case of Han, Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646 did not even chose to give any
    > Roman names for the characters, not even any form of Pinyin or simple
    > transliteration from Kana).

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