re: "World" / Unicode

Richard L. Goerwitz (
Tue, 4 Oct 1994 06:05:27 +0100

>I have `heard somewhere' that Unicode is not sufficient
>because it lumps together several asian characters that
>look similar but are, in fact, considered distinct.

You may be talking about what I've heard called the "Han
unification controversy." In brief, some Japanese char-
acters are historically Chinese characters. The thought
was that if they are historically the same they could be
coded identically. Same controversy could be repeated
for many other scripts.

Fascinating, but tangential, tidbit: The Phoenician
script gave rise to Hebrew and Aramaic script, which
gave rise, in large part, to Arabic script. Phoenician
also served as the basis for Greek, which influenced
Latin, which is the basis for all "western" scripts.
So, for example, our letter A is directly related to
the Hebrew letter aleph. And, when you get right down
to it, this letter itself gmay go all the way back to
the Sumerian sign GUD, which is a logogram for "bull."

I propose that we use the same code for the Akkadian-
Sumerian sign as for Hebrew aleph, Arabic alif, Greek
alpha, and Latin A. They are all the same sign, after
all - historically.

It is just this sort of dispute that should tip us off
to what I've been talking about here a lot, namely that
Unicode isn't a cure-all. There needs to be leeway for
other systems - past, present, and future. Scripts are
a field unto themselves, and a bunch of engineers can't
be entrusted with its intricacies any more than you
guys should trust a bunch of typographers and non-CS
visionaries to design a tractable markup metalanguage

Richard Goerwitz