Re: Greek characters in IPA usage

From: Julian Bradfield (
Date: Wed Aug 19 2009 - 04:47:59 CDT

  • Next message: David Starner: "Re: Greek characters in IPA usage"

    David Starner wrote:

    >This decision, either way, is completely backwards compatible.
    >Provided you don't update to the latest fashion, your system will work
    >exactly the same way it always has. The only question is whether the
    >latest fashion, which you here deny an interest in, will be based on a
    >concern for running on your system.

    Yes, but it won't work correctly, just as it doesn't now. The original
    unification is (IMO) a bug. Disunifying is a bug fix, not a new feature.

    >[if computers are] really a once a decade luxury, I seriously doubt it matters to
    >you enough that you care about the fine points of IPA typography.

    OK, let's forget the poor. There still remain the rich and scientific.

    >> 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.
    >How poorly designed can you get? Even twenty years ago, they knew
    >better than to intertwine the interface with the core code. If it were
    >properly coded, it wouldn't be a massive job.

    Er, it's an editor. The interface is part of the core code.
    Also, twenty years ago, they knew that in some cases, if you tried to
    separate things out in the approved fashion, the performance would be
    unacceptable. Do you remember when Microsoft tried to Do the Right
    Thing and move the GUI stuff out of the Windows kernel? They had to
    move most of it back in again to get an acceptable user response.
    The reason that XEmacs's display code is the code from hell is that it
    had to run with acceptable latencies on machines a hundred times
    slower than today's - I first used it on a 68040 - while still
    providing display functionality as rich as, or richer than, Pango/GTK
    do now.

    The display module is in fact well separated from the rest of the
    editing code - but it's an extremely complex module, since it does
    the same job as the GTK text display widgets and all their underlying

    >I'm telling you that if you want the fanciest new features, you need
    >to be prepared to update your code for them. If you're happy with the

    I don't want a new feature. I want a bug fixed.

    >Unicode, especially when that feature is largely cosmetic.

    If you've followed this discussion at all, you should appreciate that
    the argument is not cosmetic. Ignoring Michael's fetish for setting
    books using only one font, typography is not an argument for plain
    text. The argument is that IPA and Greek letters are *logically
    separate* letters, and should therefore be encoded separately, for the
    sake of data processing on them. Display is only one form of data
    processing. Variation selectors are, as Michael says, a
    "pseudo-encoding" which allows one to separate the letters for data
    processing purposes in a way that preserves readable plain text
    display (provided your systems at least know to ignore VS) - but it's
    a hack, and doesn't even work all that well, because most
    Unicode-based algorithms will treat a variant as equivalent to the
    base character.

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