RE: Term Asian is not used properly on Computers and NET

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue May 29 2001 - 17:25:37 EDT

Thomas Chan wrote:

> There are many pitfalls. Does the definition exclude Korean when written
> solely in Hangul? Is Vietnamese clearly "East Asian"? How about Yi
> (TUS3.0 thinks so)?

Whoa, wait a minute. Let's not extrapolate too much from some pragmatic
decisions that were taken to divide up a bunch of scripts into manageable
and somewhat coherent chapters for a book. The Unicode Standard is *not*
a classification of scripts -- it merely groups them into typologically
similar buckets for the purposes of reference and explanation. As more
scripts are added to the Unicode Standard, it is likely that the chapter
structure will morph to fit the contents.

> I think what one wants is something like "languages usually and currently
> possibly including Han characters in their written form". That frees us
> from worrying about historical or aberrant cases, I think.

Actually, a somewhat more pertinent criterion is *scripts* that are
typically written in the East Asian typological tradition: characters
fitting in square boxes, and often with a tradition of vertical writing
being supplanted by left-to-right layout. The prototype is obviously
Chinese, but this typographically-oriented grouping easily accomodates
Hangul, kana, Bopomofo, Yi, and other Han-influenced independent
developments of ideographs, such as Tangut.

> Or how about just "languages written with a very large collection of
> characters"? Then we can include the Tangut, et al too, without including
> some of the medium-sized syllabaries. (This does require a distorted
> analysis of hangul, though.)

It isn't the size of the collection per se, though Han ideographs are
obviously the granddaddy of all character repertoires. Consider that
we also have large old collections of hieroglyphs and historic
syllabaries (Egyptian, Sumero-Akkadian, etc.) coming down the pipeline,
and these have nothing to do with what is generally considered East Asian.
Egyptian isn't even "Asian". *hehe*


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