Re: Character name translations

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 07:59:54 -0800

On 12/20/2012 2:52 AM, Martinho Fernandes wrote:
> Hello,
> I was wondering if there is a list of character names translated into
> other languages somewhere. Is there?

A French list was created, and for a while maintained with funding from
the Canadian government. It covered the complete list of Unicode names
for the version of Unicode at the time. It was hosted at the time on the
Unicode site - there were issues because it's no longer fully
up-to-date. Don't know the status.

There was a subset list of names based on a much earlier version of the
Standard, in Swedish. Have no idea where that is accessible, if anywhere.

There have been efforts at a Japanese translation of the text of the
standard, I have no idea whether that contains translated names for

For many scripts, the character names consiste of a a prefix identifying
the script, a desingator that distinguishes basic classification such as
capital/small letters, vowels, consonants, and a part that is a often
some transliteration of the character.

After translating the script name and the few words for these
designators, what remains is the selection of an appropriate
transliteration scheme for that script in the target language.

For most of these elements, existing translations should exist, and be
easiliy accessible from the usual dictionaries and online resources,
except perhaps for the script names.

Punctuation marks and symbols tend to have more detailed names and
present more issues to a translator.

In all the translated lists that I have seen it has been customary to
use all uppercase letters, but allow the use of accented characters -
essentially replacing the notion of "A-Z" with something like "the basic
alphabet" for the given language. Some languages, may require certain
punctuation marks, in addition to hyphen, because these marks form part
of the words used for traditional names of characters.

In many instances, translators have chosen to provide a new name for a
character in the target language, usually based on a common name, or in
analogy to other names in that language, rather than to translate
word-for-word the English name.

It is unclear whether all languages benefit from an effort to translate
all character names in the Standard, but having a cross reference of
character codes to local names for widely used characters (or those of
regional importance) seems a worthy goal.

Character names serve two purposes, which are sometimes at odds. One is
to simply act as formal identifiers that are more or less mnemonic
(which the hex codes are not). The other is an aid in identifying a
character, as an aid in look-up or selection.

For the latter case, the formal names can be insufficient, because at
times they are very arbitrary and don't represent the most common name,
or because there isn't a single, common name for the character.

The French translation therefore wasn't limited to the character names,
it translated the full character names list (what is used to print the
code charts) with all the alternate descriptions (aliases) and
annotations for the characters. Once you do that, it's clear that the
work is indeed useful to ordinary users, because you enable them to
search for a character by some word in their own language, and it is no
longer a question whether you are translating some pure "identifiers".

Received on Thu Dec 20 2012 - 10:02:23 CST

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