Re: Mayan numerals

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 15:22:21 -0700

On 8/23/2012 2:48 PM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
> />>> Because we aren't ready to do it without doing it in the context
> of the whole script. /
> />> /
> />> Why not? Can you give some indication of what you're afraid of,
> some scenario of how we could possibly >later regret having included
> the basic digits now? /
> >Because the structure of the Mayan script is complex, and I don't
> believe that just saying that the numbers
> >are simple and do not participate in that complexity is sufficient to
> convince us that encoding the numbers
> >right now would not lead to undiscovered problems in the future.
> I never said the numbers do not participate in that complexity. In
> fact, I explicitly brought up several ways that they do. What I said
> was, the numbers are used by a significant population, today, who
> should not have to wait for the Mayanists to get their act together.
This is what makes this case unique, and it deserves unbiased consideration.
> If we encode the numerals now, then once the script is eventually
> fully encoded, one of several things will happen:
> * We will have (through responsible forethought) guessed right on
> the metadata, and the pre-encoded numerals will be usable as-is in
> the general encoding
> * We will have guessed wrong on the metadata, but in a way that can
> be retroactively fixed with zero impact to any existing document
> which doesn't contain non-numeric Mayan.
> * We will have guessed wrong on the metadata, and the decision is
> made that a retroactive fix is the best solution, given that it
> (say) impacts only documents which mix Mongolian with Mayan numerals.
> * We will have guessed wrong on the metadata, but anyway need to
> encode multiple versions of the number glyphs, so having used up
> 20 codepoints for modern users of the Mayan numerals is no big loss.
> * We will have guessed wrong, and will end up with 2 versions of
> each numeral glyph, a "modern use" and a "precolumbian style" version.
> I think the latter 2 possibilities are both acceptable and unlikely.
> Am I wrong? If so, why?
Usually, instead of "metadata" we use "properties", but, yes, same thing.

You are correct:

Either they can be fitted into the full script, or they cannot. Having
an extra 20 code points for "simple" modern versions of Mayan numbers is
really not a tragedy.

You are likely wrong in that I rate the possibility of dual encoding a
bit higher than you do, but, and here we depend on your evidence, if the
modern use is as prevalent as you have claimed, that would not seem to
amount to a make-or-break issue.

Received on Thu Aug 23 2012 - 17:23:37 CDT

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