Re: Relationship between Unicode and 10646

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Fri Nov 26 2004 - 16:55:09 CST

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    On 26/11/2004 14:04, Philippe Verdy wrote:

    > From: "Doug Ewell" <>
    >> My impression is that Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646 are two distinct
    >> standards, administered respectively by UTC and ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2,
    >> which have pledged to work together to keep the standards perfectly
    >> aligned and interoperable, because it would be destructive to both
    >> standards to do otherwise. I don't think of it at all as the "slave and
    >> master" relationship Philippe describes.
    > Probably not with the assumptions that one can think about "slave and
    > master", but it's still true that there can only be one standard body
    > for the character repertoire, and one formal process for additions of
    > new characters, even if two standard bodies are *working* (I don't say
    > *decide*) in cooperation.
    > The alternative would have been that UTC and WG2 are allocated each
    > some code space for making the allocations they want, but with the
    > risk of duplicate assignments. I really prefer to see the system like
    > the "master and slave" relationships, because it gets a simpler view
    > for how characters can be assigned in the common repertoire.
    > For example, Unicode has no more rights than national standardization
    > bodies making involved at ISO/IEC WG2. ...

    I don't want to go along with Philippe entirely on this, but surely he
    must be right on this last point. Formally, Unicode is effectively the
    agent of just one national body in this decision-making process. It is
    of course an extremely important and well-respected national body, and
    other national bodies should not disagree lightly with its
    recommendations. But formally these other bodies do have the right to
    outvote Unicode, and in effect to force Unicode to reverse its decisions
    - or else to reverse its policy of maintaining compatibility.

    Here in Europe it does not go down well when US bodies claim the right
    to make decisions for the whole world, or even claim, as Doug and Mark
    seem to imply, some kind of equality with international bodies. We
    Europeans are prepared to go along with the good things proposed by
    Americans. And in cases like this we are pleased when Americans are
    happy to work with us on deciding those good things. But we resent it
    when Americans try to impose their decisions on the rest of the world.

    So, I don't say that Unicode should consider itself the slave of WG2.
    But it is not the master, nor even the equal. Perhaps a better model
    would be the technical expert on a committee who presents proposals to
    the otherwise non-technical committee members. The decisions are the
    committee's, but a wise committee accepts its technical member's
    proposals except where there are strong other reasons for rejecting it.

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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