Re: Three modest proposals

From: Julian Bradfield (
Date: Sun Apr 03 2011 - 06:13:49 CDT

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    On 2011-04-03, <> wrote:
    > From: Andrew West (
    >> On 1 April 2011 21:27, Julian Bradfield <> wrote:
    >> >
    >> > Of course, the same goes for mah-jong, playing cards, and all sorts
    >> > of other junk in Unicode. That's not a reason to add more junk. Every
    >> > added character makes a lot of work for anybody trying to provide
    >> > complete coverage, or complete non-Han coverage.
    >> That's one of the worst possible reasons not to encode new characters
    >> that I've ever heard. If everyone had that attitude then Unicode
    >> would never have taken off in the first place, and we'd be stuck with
    >> ASCII because it is easier to support than Unicode.
    >> Andrew
    > Actually, it's an incredibly potent reason to /not/ encode items
    > that aren't used as characters.

    Precisely. Unicode's raison d'être is encoding writing systems. That
    is an enormous amount of work, which is far from complete. Why
    add to it by encoding non-characters?

    > extended to heraldic use? I also think that getting a couple texts
    > where there is a little sheild or square with those fills used
    > in-line with plain text would be a significant factor in overcoming
    > that particular objection. If these examples exist - if they are
    > actually used by knowledgable people in the field to refer
    > offhandedly to gules and verd and or and argent, then that's the
    > ball game.

    I'm sure you won't find them. Hatchings as such are used only where
    somebody wants to depict an achievement in detail in a medium where
    colour is impossible or prohibitively expensive, such as engraving on
    a brass plaque, or books in the pre-modern age.
    Knowledgeable people use "gules", "vert", "argent" (or the equivalent
    in their language) to refer to gules, vert, argent. Heraldic artists
    and officers don't use hatchings at all for communication - if they
    wish to sketch an achievement, they do a line drawing and indicate the
    colours by abbreviations of the names.
    In forty years of reading heraldry, I've never seen "hatching

    > And I disagree with the characterization of playing cards and
    > mah-jongg tiles (pun intended) as junk. Possibly because of the
    > importance of games in my family, I have seen simple playing cards
    > and mah-jongg tile images used as plain text elements
    > before. Admittedly, I have more often seen A♠ than 🂡, but that does
    > not pejorate the use of playing card "images" in plain text, in my
    > mind.

    I don't read Western playing-card literature, but I have most
    English-language mah-jong books, and a fair selection of other
    languages (including Chinese), and I've never seen mah-jong tiles used
    in a way that says to me "this is intended as a plain text character",
    rather than "this is a picture embedded in the line of text". That
    usage seems exactly analogous to children's word-picture books - will
    Unicode encode pictures of ducks, pigs and so on because people publish
    children's books in which they use pictures to replace words? (OK, I
    know many of them are already in the emoji characters, but let's not
    go there again.)
    I am surprised if the same is not true of playing cards.

    Indeed, encoding hatching characters would amount to adopting
    a weak version of William's idea of localizable sentences. The only
    imaginable use of hatching characters would be to produce a language
    independent "text" representation of a blazon. But then you'd have to
    encode all the shapes, charges, and so on as well. Back to the
    word-picture books. There are already language-independent ways of
    representing blazons in text, using XML.

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