Re: Three modest proposals

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Tue Apr 05 2011 - 08:39:33 CDT

  • Next message: Doug Ewell: "Re: Three modest proposals"

    2011/4/5 Michael Everson <>:
    > On 5 Apr 2011, at 02:08, Mark Davis ☕ wrote:
    >>> >               • All the different languages' abbreviations for A, K, Q, J?
    >>> No, these would be font-specific glyph variants. That's already the case, since the Queen of Spades is (quite properly) unified with the Queen of Swords.
    >>> (no
    >> And that makes the whole notion of using characters pointless. For someone to have any assurance that what they send is what the recipient sees, s/he would need to send an image instead. Unifying Tarot cards with regular playing cards only makes sense if people know the correspondences, which they typically don't. Would the average person seeing know what the corresponding regular card would be.
    > "Regular" cards (whether European or North American) *are* historically identical with "esoteric" cards. We unified them on this basis. For my part I think the unification is satisfactory enough (and you know how I am about over-unification). However, if you think that this unification was an over-unification, then perhaps we could work together to disunify them.

    Not needed to create new characters for localized abbreviations. The
    set in (
    can perfectly be supported by Unicode fonts that have per-language
    customizations (e.g. in French "A, R, D, C, V" for "as, roi, dame,
    cavalier, valet" instead of "A, K, Q, Kn, J" for English "Ace, King,
    Queen, Knight/Princesss, Jack/Page/Prince"); effectively the 56-cards
    deck that includes knights only needed for Tarot, and it's very
    unfortunate that it does not include the 21 Atouts, and the Excuse.
    (Note that the "abbreviation" symbol for the jokers are most often a
    star within a circle, with some minor variations that do not really
    depend on the language, and the abbreviation for the Excuse is a black
    star, generally with 5 branches).

    Then distinct fonts can be made to change the appearance of figures
    and of the 4 colors, or to use the taller form of Tarot cards
    (including the Knights, the 21 Atouts and the Excuse), or display the
    chiromancy ("esoteric") characters used in the older Tarot de
    Marseille (see them in In all these cases,
    the full set of cards is changed to display the preference, and any
    game could be played with one deck or the other, and the user could
    still select himself the deck he prefers by selecting it in a list of
    suitable fonts. In the Tarot de Marseille, The "Fool" is another Atout
    or "Major Arcana" (number 0 or 22 depending on interpretations), which
    maps to a Joker in a modern deck or to the Excuse.

    Two other cards are possibly still missing to the proposed deck :
      * the all white card (with a normal back side) : in some games it
    may take the value of any other card, chosen by the player, and with a
    higher value in fact than the joker(s) ; most commercial decks include
    at least one such card, sometimes showing the rules or the summary
    grid to compute points, or a commercial mark.
      * and a unicolored separator card (generally blue, or red/orange or
    pink) used to cut the deck after scrambling, and to mark the end of
    the deck in casinos) : those cards aren't played but indicate an event
    that this is the last turn before scrambling the deck again.

    And there could also be a special character to designate a card
    showing its reverse indistinct side (where you don't know which card
    it is on the other side, except that it cannot be a separator card
    which is identifiable on both sides).

    Possibly a combining character or variant selector could also be used
    to indicate that the card is rotated 180 degrees (some games use cards
    that are not symetric, or display the abbreviation symbol only on one
    corner instead of two opposite corners; the position of the card plays
    a role; another position is when the card is shown horizontally,
    rotated 90 degrees, to mark some bet or wait state in the game). This
    180 degree rotation has a distinct meaning in "esoteric" chiromancy.
    You may think that these positions are part of a higher-layer of
    protocol for presentation and layout, but in playing list notations,
    it may be useful (and better than showing an extra symbol after it).

    One problem comes with some variants of the Tarot de Marseille, when
    its 4 traditional "coloured" suits (rods/wands/batons, cups/chalices,
    coins/pentagrams, swords) mapped in the modern French decks :

     * (respectively: rods -> black clubs, cups/chalice -> red hearts,
    coins/pentagrams -> red diamonds, swords -> black spades)

    are mapped instead to the 4 alchemic elements :

      * (generally: rods/black clubs -> Fire, cups/red hearts -> Water,
    coins/pentagrams/red diamonds -> Earth, swords/black spades -> Air),

    because there's an ambiguity depending on other traditions :

      * (instead to: rods/black clubs -> Earth, cups/red hearts -> Air,
    coins/pentagrams/red diamonds -> Water, swords/black spades -> Fire).

    so the association of suits to alchemic elements should not be annoted
    in the encoding (I've never seen in fact any playing cards deck
    showing the elements directly, as this is just an interpretation of
    the suits ; there are also associations of figures to theses alchemic

      * (notably: Jack/Page/Prince -> Earth, Knight/Cavalier/Princess ->
    Air, Queen -> Water, King -> Fire)

    For these reasons, it may be better to separate the encoding of suits
    from the minor arcanes (numbers Ace to 10 and the 4 figures), using
    combining sequences (but note that the 4 modern French suits are
    already encoded separately as symbols in Unicode characters), adding
    separate symbols for alchemic elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) and
    traditional Marseille suits (rods, cups, coins/pentagrams, swords). An
    laternative would be to use variant selectors, but as variants should
    not create a confusion when they are not supported and the normal
    glyph assign to the character without the encoded variant, I think it
    would violate the rules for variant selectors.

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