RE: Level of Unicode support required for various languages

From: Don Osborn (
Date: Wed Oct 24 2007 - 16:37:21 CDT

  • Next message: Andrew West: "Re: Level of Unicode support required for various languages"

    This is actually an important area of consideration. Although it is not
    specified in the request for info, I'm guessing that Timothy is mainly
    asking about Latin as a complex script, at least for questions 1 & 3.

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of Timothy Armes
    > Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 4:08 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Level of Unicode support required for various languages
    > Hi,
    > I'm looking for accurate answers to the following questions. I've
    > spent a lot of time trying to find this information but it doesn't
    > appear to be readily available. I'm hoping that someone here can help
    > me.
    > 1) How many and which languages absolutely require the use of
    > combinging marks due to the fact there the pre-composed glyphs aren't
    > sufficient?

    Ken Whistler pointed out that the issue is not the languages so much as the
    orthographies, though orthographies are set by some definition of a language
    (in the case of Africa, often on a country level for languages that cross

    It is a reasonable question as posed, though there are certainly extended
    Latin orthographies where there is not a strict requirement. But others
    where it is required. The flip side of the question is sometimes heard as
    "can you get away without the diacritics in such-and-such language" (heard
    this wrt Yoruba tone marks; this question too is not necessarily
    unreasonable but it is sometimes indicative of seeking a shortcut where
    there might not be one). A better way to frame this question IMO is to ask
    what orthographies need combining diacritics in order to provide the range
    of possible uses, since there are no precomposed alternatives.

    All that said, I'd agree that it is hard to make such a determination and
    I'm not aware of anyone who has tried. In Africa, where this question is
    especially pertinent, orthographies are sometimes not as standardized as one
    would think or hope.

    Nevertheless, a *start* on a list would be useful, and indeed in the African
    context this has been discussed and hopefully will generate some useful work

    > 2) How many and which languages absolutely require the use of variant
    > selectors?

    No expertise on this. But another issue is that of equivalent/alternate
    characters. Leaving aside orthographies in transition (where one form is
    used now, but some other form or combination was used before, and some way
    of transforming from one to another might be useful), the most notable case
    in Africa might be languages written in Ge'ez/Ethiopic, or at least Amharic,
    where there are alternate characters for some sounds that can be and are
    used alternatively.

    > 3) How many and which languages absolutely require the use of variant
    > glyphs?

    Variant from what? There are alternate glyphs for the capital eng, as Lorna
    Priest pointed out, but usually a given orthography would use one form as a

    Hope this helps.

    Don Osborn

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