Re: Character name translations

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 00:36:23 +0200

2012-12-20 14:13, David Starner wrote:

>> It may be useful to try to agree on official or semi-official names for
>> characters in a language. Such a list hardly needs to cover all of the over
>> 100,000 Unicode characters.
> Why not? Why should an English speaker sticking a arbitrary character
> into a character map program get a name for it but a non-English
> speaker not?

For most characters, a “translated” name would be arbitrary. I would
compare this to names of biological species. Most species lack names in
most languages, and when names exist, they are often vaguely and
inconsistently used. That’s why people use scientific (Linnaean) names.
We use common names for common animals, but it just would not make sense
to assign a name to the millions of insect species in each human
language. The scientific name is a crucial key to information. With
Unicode characters, both the number and the name act as such keys,
though the name is usually descriptive of meaning, too.

>> So Unicode names should not be translated at all, any more than you
>> translate General Category values for example.
> Why wouldn't you?

Because those values are identifiers.

> There's an argument that they're generally useful
> for programmers only and programming often requires English knowledge,
> but if I were explaining the character categories in Esperanto, I
> would certainly say that Sm is matematikaj simboloj or Simbolo
> Matematika, not act like "Symbol, Math" should have any importance to
> my audience.

We can and often should *explain* meanings of identifiers in different
languages, but that’s different from naming things. The value “Sm” has a
technical meaning, and it is not identical with the common-language
expression “mathematical symbol” or its variants, though rather close.

Received on Thu Dec 20 2012 - 16:38:27 CST

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