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Celebrating Unicode's Twentieth Anniversary!

It's been twenty years since Joe Becker, the father of Unicode, published Unicode 88 while working for Xerox in Palo Alto, CA. To celebrate this milestone, the Unicode Consortium held a trivia and poetry contest during the 32nd Internationalization and Unicode Conference reception on September 10, 2008. These pages are an attempt to share this celebration with those of you who missed our latest conference and to thank all the Unicode fans who contributed to make this evening a real success.


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Lyrics by Andrea Vine



Unicode Was Made for You and Me

To the tune of "This land is your land". 
with apologies to Woody Guthrie.
Copyright 2008 by Craig W. Cornelius
Here's to Unicode, that internationalization panacea,
Let's hope that we'll never find need to replace ya!
Your uniformity, uniqueness, and most of all, universality
Make up your (ten) principled character personality.

On round trips you're compatible with the most obscure graphemes
Forcing them into normalcy, then encoding schemes.
With the patience of saints, it is no surprise
You have an RFC role to canonicalize.

You bring characters together in dynamic combinations
Assisting programs in correct interpretation
(But never insisting on specific presentations,
Instead leaving that to experts in localization.)

Shall I extol your streamlined Basic Multilingual Plane
Even as it goes beyond FFFF again and again?
About your capacity I can't be too complimentary
I mean, over a million possible characters supplementary!

All the world's modern and ancient scripts are included
(Though Klingon is one the committee eluded;
But still there's no need to resort to hysteria,
For one is equipped with a Private Use Area.)

Each character, too, has a property selection
Such as function and case, position and direction.
Bi-directionality I mean, the right-to-left, left-to-right one,
Not something as complex as boustrophedon.

Your versatility knows not a boundary;
Many character encodings have emerged from your foundry.
There are 8-, 16-, and 32-bit selections.
(The 7-bit was  deprecated for everyone's protection.)
Though, due to certain platform vending and
Other factors, 16-bit is endian.

But Unicode, don't let this praise make you haughty,
For over the years you too have been naughty!
In case you've forgotten, the Korean move,
European currency symbol, and a few others prove
You're not without fault; but these foibles don't mask the
Incredible improvement over US-ASCII.

So here's to Unicode, and to Joe, Mark, and Lee,
For all their hard work and a very low fee.
This repertoire extraordinaire has made its place.
After all, where else could one find a zero-width no-break space?


It's a Farsi email from the Polish punk band,
To California from their tour in Iceland,
If your app's just ASCII, don't even bother.
That only works for A to Z.

You could apply every one-byte code page,
From EBCDIC to Cyrillic Language.
Big 5 and shift-JIS or eight-eight-five-nine.
But it won't encode for you or me.

We need a system that's universal,
To send Fulani to Sudan and Nepal,
To both Koreas, Malta, and Thailand.
Unicode's the right technology.

My email's left hand, your text is right hand.
Arabic and Hebrew can make your mind bend,
While you're building layout routines for BiDi.
Try I-C-U; the code is free.
So write your web site in Greek or Kanji,
And online chat with mom in Swahili,
And maybe someday, even in Emoji.
Unicode works great for “zou” and “phi”.

As you blog out on that ribbon of type, hey,
It's on the worldwide electronic highway,
In Unicode, it will take the fast lane.
Your rant is there for all to see.

Sure, it's missing Klingon and obscure dead sprache,
But it sorts R-S-S feeds straight from Pravda.
And your Chinese thesis will look great in Finland.
Millions can read just what you mean.

If it seems too complex, and you think you should wait,
Don't forget that Java speaks UTF-8,
And other platforms use the I-C-U libs.
Open Source software is the key.

Don't build your app with just an English GUI,
Next week your boss will want it all in Hindi,
I-18-N and L-10-N save you.
Each new locale will be a breeze.

This text is yours and this text is mine, and
They'll read it all on dial-up and broadband.
A hundred thousand code points, and growing.
This standard's made for you and me.

Unicode Doggerel: "I am the very model
of a modern text encoding scheme"

To the tune of "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General",
by Gilbert and Sullivan.
Lyrics Copyright 2008 Jim DeLaHunt.
I am the very model of a modern text encoding scheme,
a million scalars, astral planes, and UTFs like six-&-teen,
and UAX and UTR, collation, bidi, properties,
I am the very model of a modern text encoding scheme.
I am the very model of a modern text encoding scheme,
with Latin, Greek and IPA, Cyrillic Hebrew Syriac,
Bengali Tamil Arabic,  MaLAY-a-LAM Ethiopic,
Sinhala Thai Lao Kannada, Tagalog Runic Ogham Greek

Syllabics Aboriginal, Mongolian and Balinese,
Math-maticals, and Braille, Khmer, plus Glagolitic, Latin-C,
And OCR and Number Forms and Letterlike Symbology,
Combining Diacriticals, Box Drawing, Dingbats, Currency!

There’s Bopomofo, Hiragana, Coptic and Han Radicals,
and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan
and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan
and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan and Unihan...

And Yi, and More Cyrillic, Latin, someday soon some Javanese
& Hangul Hangul Hangul Hangul, Surrogate Points, Private Use,
The Arab Presentation forms, the Halfwidth and f-E-ff,
I am the very model of a modern text encoding scheme!

One hundred thousand characters and lots of meta-dater,...
But still no Klingon coded there, you’ll have to come back later!
  McKenna-Vine Poetry (MOV format, 44MB)*
McKenna-Vine Poetry (MP3 format, 8MB)**

Cornelius Song (MOV format, 19MB)*

DeLaHunt Song (MOV format, 30MB)*
DeLaHunt Song (MP3 format, 5MB)**

Texin Limerick (MOV format, 27MB)*
Texin Limerick (MP3 format, 9MB)**

Trivia Questions (MP3 format, 19MB)**

* Courtesy of Cindy Conlin (LDS Church)
** Courtesy of Chris Weber (Casaba Security)