Re: Greek characters in IPA usage

From: Julian Bradfield (
Date: Tue Aug 18 2009 - 04:51:29 CDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Greek characters in IPA usage"

    David Starner wrote:
    >On Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 3:37 PM, Julian
    >Bradfield<> wrote:
    >> On 2009-08-17, David Starner <> wrote:
    >>> The statement was about the X11 core font system. I'm not sure I buy
    >>> that it's worth Unicode worrying about; it has no support for complex
    >>> script shaping, for one.
    >> That's another example of the Unicode zealot's dismissal of a large
    >> user community with a huge existing base. The majority of the world
    >> doesn't need complex script shaping.
    >Those two statements are contradictory. According to the Ethnologue,

    No they're not. (In any interpretation: but by the existing base, I
    meant all the non-shaping systems out there used by people who don't
    need it.)

    >the languages with the 4th, 5th and 6th most native speakers need
    >complex script shaping. People living in Morocco, Bangladesh, Nepal
    >and everywhere in between, over a billion of them, all need complex
    >script shaping to type their daily languages. Yes, they fail to make

    Hmm. What percentage of the population of Morocco, Bangladesh,
    Nepal have access to a computer? (< 1% among poor Bangladeshis, for example).
    When they finally get computers, they'll be new computers, which will
    support their languages (and indeed lack of Bangla support is one reason for
    the paucity of computers among the Bangladeshi poor).
    I'm talking about the people who already have computers, and have done
    for the last thirty or forty years.

    >up a majority of the world, but what's the numbers on your "large user
    >community"? How many people out there really can't use programs that
    >use 21st century font systems, like GNOME and KDE?

    "really can't". Another demonstration of the Unicode zealot's complete
    dismissal of everybody else's time as worthless. We all *can*, by
    porting, or paying somebody else to port, all our existing materials
    to the latest fashion, and then learning to use the latest fashion,
    despite the decades of efficency savings obtained by knowing the old
    ones well. Neither I nor my employers think that a good use of my time
    or their money.
    As I've said before: BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY!

    If you replace "really can't" by "can't reasonably":

    (a) Everybody who has a significant investment in the forty or so years
        of serious computing that preceded the 21st century. That's a
        numerically small but scientifically significant community.
    (b) Everybody who can't afford to replace or upgrade computers every
        couple of years. That's what, 60% of the world population?
        Even here in the developed world I know people for whom a computer
        is a once a decade (at most) luxury.

    >> Indeed, it's open to question
    >> whether script shaping is *plain text* at all
    >Unless you exclude Arabic and Hindi as plain text, no, it's not.

    Is it really the case that Arabic and Hindi speakers *can't read*
    unshaped script? What did Hindi and Arabic look like on 1970s
    computers with 9x15 bitmaps on green screens?

    >> I personally stick to the core font system because I find bitmapped
    >> fonts far clearer and easier to read than ****type fonts in the sizes
    >> I use
    >As far as I know, Pango supports bitmapped fonts. If not, then perhaps
    >the smart thing to do is to improve Pango.

    You're doing it again.
    For the last (almost) twenty years, I've been using the same core
    application. In the last ten years, that application has changed
    hardly at all. It predates Unicode, but now sort of supports it; it
    far predates Pango, and I see little prospect of anybody doing the
    massive job of porting it to Pango in the foreseeable future - quite
    apart from the fact that that would introduce lots of dependencies on
    rapidly changing software.
    You're telling me that I and all the others who've actually been using
    computers to do our work, should throw away our decades of investment,
    and use some horrible new piece of bloatware instead!

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