Re: Mayan numerals

From: Michael Everson <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 23:30:49 +0100

On 23 Aug 2012, at 22:48, Jameson Quinn wrote:

>> 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.

Significant population? Some school kids somewhere? A couple of local magazines? Local usage is important, yes. Tengwar is used by lots of folks.

> If we encode the numerals now, then once the script is eventually fully encoded, one of several things will happen:

I don't think you can possibly know what can 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

Guessing right is not adequate. Once a character has been encoded it can NEVER be removed. I don't know what you think "metadata" means in this context.

> 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.

Again, I don't know what you mean by "metadata", so I don't know what you think but if Mayan numbers are expected to

> 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.

I don't know what you think a "retroactive fix" is but it is unlikely that any "informative" as opposed to "normative" fix would be possible.

> 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 are not supposed to encode duplicate characters.

> We will have guessed wrong, and will end up with 2 versions of each numeral glyph, a "modern use" and a "precolumbian style" version.

The Universal Character Set is an International Standard. We cannot go in encoding things we do not have confidence in.

> I think the latter 2 possibilities are both acceptable and unlikely. Am I wrong? If so, why?

Cutting to the chase, I can tell you honestly that I will oppose in committee any move to encode only the numbers of the Mayan script as doing so would be irresponsible.

We must encode Mayan properly.

Michael Everson *
Received on Thu Aug 23 2012 - 17:32:55 CDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Thu Aug 23 2012 - 17:32:57 CDT