Re: Tifinagh - extension for complete common Berber alphabet isomorphic with Latin

From: Robert Abel (
Date: Wed Feb 17 2010 - 10:24:45 CST

  • Next message: "Re: Tifinagh - extension for complete common Berber alphabet isomorphic with Latin"

    Hi Paul,

    > - My personal suggestions for orthographic reform apply only to the Latin
    > script. The only connection with Tifinagh is that the scripts share
    > features, since they are used for the same purposes. For the Latin script,
    > I am suggesting how to allow each existing Tuareg language variant to
    > be written the same way when it straddles borders, and to allow any
    > future converged variety to be written in a way consistent with Northern
    > Berber.
    While this seems like a good way for users to input data, it is totally
    out of scope for Unicode. This challenge would be up for a keyboard
    layout, input method editor or somesuch, but not for the underlying

    > - The suggestions for Tifinagh, by contrast, concern the most economical
    > way of making *existing usage* practical in Unicode, while keeping the
    > same advantages as my Latin suggestions for the future.
    Again, I feel this is not practical in *Unicode*, but rather practical
    for input and clarification of spelling, pronunciation etc. for the
    user. I think this would have to be most likely reformed by the current
    bodies that shaped existing use of Latin for representation.
    > - You are correct that the controversial part is to aim for a unified
    > reference alphabet, leaving differences to the fonts, and having separate
    > specific code points for particular historical/regional variant letters
    > like the Berber academy forms where they need to be shown explicitly.
    > (I live in Algeria in Kabylie and actually prefer the Berber Academy
    > glyphs!)
    This is indeed controversial, as it goes against the principles of
    Unicode. Unicode encodes scripts, yet you propose to encode *sounds*
    that would then be, depending on font, mapped to *different* characters,
    *not glyphs*, which for instance is the case with the CJKV range.
    > Since when you tabulate the different regional alphabets they all line
    > up, each having letters (usually the same ones, even) for the same sounds,
    > I think my approach is a sensible proposition. Otherwise it's like encoding
    > Gothic A-Z and Italic A-Z separately.
    Again, those are only different *glyphs* for the *same character* as far
    as encoding and fonts are concerned.
    For instance, consider a world where all currency symbols were actually
    the same code point, namely ¤ U+00A4 CURRENCY SIGN. Now any monetary
    figure would be displayed with a different currency sign when different
    fonts are used and it would lead to disaster (compare JPY 100 to USD
    100). This was basically what happened with ANSI encoding. Latin
    characters would turn into Greek or Russian simply because text was
    viewed on another PC that had another locale. Because of this and other
    pragmatic reasons (e.g., the internet and need to have different scripts
    side-by-side), Unicode was born. So your current proposal would be a
    real step back. Just look at the mess with the Yen sign even today with
    Unicode because of legacy support! ¥ for Japanese OS, reverse solidus \
    for everybody else... because Fonts map that way!
    IMO the correct way of handling what you're proposing would be to have
    different keyboard layouts that map same sounds to same keys. Therefore,
    user A accustomed to keyboard for one script can simply change layouts
    and type the same sounds. This would obviously only work if your
    proposed system seemed natural to the casual user and there is no
    constant need to type in mixed scripts.
    Creating a whole new alphabet that would then map (via keyboard layout
    or IME for mixed texts) is overshooting the mark in my opinion, as it
    would require the casual user to learn another "unified reference
    alphabet" just to type into a PC.

    I think you should propose the two missing characters that you have
    proof of use and should work out a way to logically input these
    different scripts by common and established means, so your research can
    bear fruit and help boost literacy and cross-border awareness for Berber


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