Re: Character name translations

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 00:54:56 +0200

2012-12-20 17:59, Asmus Freytag wrote:

> 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 first purpose, it’s the Unicode name that is used. I don’t think
anyone wants to localize things so that you could “translated names”
e.g. as constant identifiers in program code.

In look-up or selection, it would be relevant to be able to use any
names of characters actually used, as well as descriptive words. You
don’t need standard names for that but any common names.

But names are also used for other purposes. We discuss characters, and
we give instructions on which characters should be used. How would you
tell someone over the phone how a write some expression containing
problematic characters? How would you make it clear to a writer or a
typesetter whether he should use “-”, “–”, “−”, or “‐”? I think such
issues are the most important use cases for names of characters, because
you cannot usually rely on Unicode numbers alone and because Unicode
names wouldn’t be practical enough.

So I think this would be the real challenge: to define names for such
Unicode characters that are relevant and for which suitable common names
are available or can be formed. But as such, lists of names have little
impact unless they become known and accepted and used. This is why it
would be much more important to name, say, 50 commonly used characters
that have no well-established name in a language than to spend time in
naming 5,000 characters.

Received on Thu Dec 20 2012 - 16:56:29 CST

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