Re: Mandombe

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2012 14:43:26 +0200

2012/6/9 Stephan Stiller <>:
> A very interesting script indeed. (Never heard of it before).
> While the shape andsc the impression it does is quite intriguing and
> fascinating, I'd think that it's rather impractical to write actually.
> Thank you. That's indeed the elephant in the room. Writing systems differ
> hugely in their practicability. Criteria like
> ease of being handwritten
> ease of being typed
> speed of being read
> likelihood of confusion of individual characters/letters/symbols (in either
> production or recognition)
> 1-to-1-ness of the mapping between orthographic representation and phoneme
> string
> seem to rarely be considered as design criteria. I never understood this.
> Discussions with people used to a particular writing system tend to reveal
> the lack of critical thinking applied to such issues.

Even though these critierias seem to be important to anyone that would
like to get litteracy skills, these are definitely not criterias for,
or against encoding in the UCS.

The most importat criterai is : it is really used by a community ?

For now, the main issue is effectively the fact that this script has
been invented, this invention has been registered and protected in
several countries (Congo RDC, France, USA, possibly others), and that
the copyright claims (and patents) are restrictinh the usage because
they require a licence for use by anyone.

All these claims demonstrate that this is a private-use only script,
even if the author pushed some educational insitutions in his
countries to get some supports and researches, and organize some
(limited) educational programs.

Whever the script is sacred or not is not important. But the
publication of his script within an open standard that is aimed to be
usable by anyone (not just its encoding, but also all discussions
about its usage, or the design of supporting fonts) clearly militates
for blocking for now the encoding, until the author pushes to ISO and
UTC a licence that will irrevocably remove all royatee-claims and all
further claims that would forbid any derived work on his script by
anyone else than the author (or people that only the author will

It is perfectly admittable however to credit the author. The proposal
is definitely not an open licence that matches the targets and
policies of the UCS, both in TUS and in the ISO/IEC 10646 standard.
There's not even the minimum licence (with "reasonnable" cost) that is
required for ANY ISO standard.

So for now we have to consider this script like an artistic creation.
It is protected as a whole.and still not encodable. Even if there was
a compatible licence, there would still be the lack of an open
community for it. It is legitimate for this script to be registered as
an artisitic creation, and even legitimate for the author to claim
sacred status, or legitimate for him to seek some supports in some
limited educational areas.

The complexity of the Mandombe layout is not important blocking issue
: it also has specific 2D layout and rendering difficulties that are
not encodable for now as themselves, and for which some technical
description languages are still being developped as an upper layer
that may be used as well for Egyptian hieroglyphs, even though the
hieroglyphs cause much less problems that SignWriting.

This Mandombe script is far less encodable that Sutton's SignWriting,
even if both were invented. Sutton's script has demonstrated the
existence of an open community and desires to be as widely used as

For now the best way to encode the Mandombe script is by using a
transcroding (to Latin, as it is the script that is used in the
desription of the script) along with a higher-level description
language and some rich text format to support the conversion using
custom fonts.
Received on Sat Jun 09 2012 - 07:45:30 CDT

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