Fictional could make things less functional

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/12/24 03:01 -05:00, original URI:

I have a list of things that i plan to write about at some point. That list includes ideas of my own, questions in email, items in the suggestion box, things floating around in my head, and posts that are half-written but not yet ready for the blog (and if you think for a moment about the variability of what I post, the concept of 'not yet ready for the blog' is somewhat frightening!).

Sometimes I have a post that I had no plans to post immediately and then a suggestion from somewhat upgrades its importance.

This post is about just such a topic.

Maurits asked me the following question in the Suggestion Box:

Could you comment on either or both of the two proposals to add JRR Tolkein's "Tengwar" alphabet into Unicode?

And this is just such a topic.

Disclaimer: I am speaking for neither Microsoft nor Unicode here -- these are only my own thoughts and speculations, which should therefore be weighed accordingly....

I remember a few years back, when talking to a member company representative of The Unicode Consortium about his company's decision to scale back from FULL to ASSOCIATE. It seems that the higher-ups at his company had taken as good look on the work going on now and said that from a corporate point of view, Unicode was 'not complete, but complete enough for them' and that they did not need to be as fully involved in the goings-on.

Although he did not personally agree with the implied judgment of the work that was going on, he had to admit that their expansion plans did not really have a requirement to cover all that was consistent with what Unicode was doing.

More and more companies may come to the same (or a similar) conclusion eventually. I mean, it is easy for a smaller company to assume that the companies like IBM and Microsoft will stay members and that between the big ticket members and the synchronization with ISO 10646 will keep Unicode in a good enough place no matter whether the smaller member companies are full members or not.

As this thought starts to occur to other companies, add to that the way that a corporate entity might look at proposals like the [rejected] one for Klingon, or the still pending proposals for Tolkien's Elvish languages (Cirth and Tengwar).

I mean, if and when we reach the point that Unicode has the time to seriously consider Tengwar and Cirth, any company may come to the same conclusion that Unicode is 'not done, but done enough for them'.

Member companies could even think that now since they are on the Unicode roadmap, in the Supplementary Multilingual Plane. Though hopefully they are keeping their eye on the work that is actaually going on in meetings. Though some many have trouble seeing the relevenace of Egyptian Hieroglyphics to their business models, where the use is possibly more obvious.

Even large companies like Microsoft will need to have a framework beyond the current locale model if they ever want to support historic scripts in any kind of built-in way, because the honest truth is that a copy of Windows localized into such a language or even using the date formats in the system tray is just a novelty, it is not a serious requirement. Even when the need to support the scripts themselves is seriously required by scholars.

So in their own way, companies like Microsoft have the same problem -- they have to extend beyond what they currently do to move to such a model.

Now Microsoft is actually doing that when it comes to features such as MSKLC and the Text Services Framework and OpenType -- by supporting the ability of people outside of Microsoft to input and display text before Microsoft gets around to the capability (if we plan to at some point), it becomes easier (or at the very least possible) to support such scenarios.

You may have noticed that I avoided giving my own opinion on the importance of encoding Cirth and Tengwar into Unicode. :-)

That is intentional -- I have no contact with the community that needs/wants to support them, and thus no way for me to find out

And even if I did make such contacts and was convinced of all of the above (which I have to admit is a huge IF), I would have to be convinced that those needs outweigh the possible PR problems for Unicode I previously mentioned.

So, having no expertise in the Elvish scripts of Tolkein or in the needs of those who use them, and having a strong desire to see Unicode's reptuation as a relevant standard for computer software in future versions, it is easy for me to see no need for urgency in these proposals.

Which of course raises another interesting point -- why not reject them and be done with it?

I would actually be against doing this, to some extent. This is not so much for the sake of the proposals themselves as for the fact that for just about every argument I or anyone else could make for such a thing, an example of a script that actually has a serious need and which was accepted (or will be) could probably be produced.

In my opinion that is because the best reason to reject such arguments is the one thing that would not (and could not) be in the record. Every other argument is pretty much an excuse, not a reason.

When one tries to make excuses to get what one wants, it is easy to prove that one is not making sufficiently reasonable arguments.

Leaving them in the roadmap strikes that balance that it seems everyone can live with.


This post brought to you by "" (U+f8e4, a.k.a. a private use character, or KLINGON LETTER TLH in the CSUR)

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referenced by

2011/06/05 No, we're still not gonna see Klingon in Unicode (Pssst! Don't tell Shawn!)

2008/04/06 Fight the Future? (#6 of ??), aka If we don't need it yet can we say it is a last resort?

2007/08/18 Who are the heirs of Bernard R. Miller? (aka U+2323 when you say that!)

2007/01/26 If I were Australian I might say that Steve Jobs and the Klingon emporer were mates?

2006/11/30 So when is Esperanto coming?

2006/01/31 And while I'm on the subject, there is the rest of the world

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