Re: ASCII and Unicode lifespan

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sun May 22 2005 - 06:00:56 CDT

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    At 02:00 +1000 2005-05-22, Nick Nicholas wrote:

    >The Phaistos Disk (or board game: see .sig), as limited a corpus as
    >it is and as utterly undeciphered, is not much further along than an
    >abecedary for all we know, and hardly makes inline glyphs

    Unless you want to interchange the data reliably. ISO/IEC 10646 is
    intended to support data interchange. PHAISTOS SIGN TATTOOED HEAD is
    what it is, and all sorts of materials may cite it.

    >A script used exclusively in meta-discussion of the script, and not
    >to transmit text in the script itself as a message, doesn't sound
    >like my idea of plaintext, any more than would a discussion of
    >horticulture with illustrations require us to encode rose cultivar
    >illustrations as codepoints.

    We have lots of characters which don't meet your notion of plaintext, then.

    >Finally, Michael Everson [...] dismisses the character-glyph model thus:
    >>Because, Patrick, the character-glyph model is not as rigid and
    >>rule-bound as you would like it to be. Consider the many hundreds if
    >>not thousands of Han characters which are clearly duplicates,
    >>variants, or just plain unknown.

    Nonsense. This is not a dismissal of the character-glyph model. But
    that model is just that -- a model. It guides us. It does not bind
    us. Otherwise all sorts of legacy cruft would not have been allowed
    to be encoded. And that cruft is still being added to the standard,
    in big great buckets. We don't complain because the Chinese are rich
    and powerful, and because we recognize that the interchange of their
    lexicographical corpus is something worth supporting.

    >Where Unicode is considering encodings ab initio, with no such
    >cultural or legacy static, it should take its own rules seriously.
    >The Phaistos Disk (or board game) is not the Han character

    No, but neither is it irrelevant to European culture and literature.

    >After all, just because we got saddled with oodles of precomposed
    >codepoints through legacy doesn't mean we should dismiss the
    >avoidance of new precomposed codepoints for being "rigid and
    >rule-bound"; the case looks to me fully analogous.

    Not at all. A precomposed letter with diacritical marks is disallowed
    because it can already be represented by a string of characters.
    Phaistos characters cannot be represented by a base letter and a

    >>We don't know what they *mean* but it is certainly unlikely that
    >>any one of them is a glyph variant of any other one of them.
    >Sez you. Unless Phaistos is deciphered, all you can say is that the
    >glyphs are not the same; we simply do not know what the characters
    >(or board squares) and their combinatorics are, and cannot
    >responsibly encode them as anything but glyphs --- i.e. inline
    >graphics --- until we do. Stranger things have happened with glyph
    >variants, after all.

    I think this shows that you haven't really looked at the Phaistos
    disk corpus. Small as it is, I think it's pretty clear that none of
    those characters is a glyph variant of any other one. You're playing
    devil's advocate, I suppose.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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