About cultural/languages communities flags

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Tue Feb 10 10:16:14 CST 2015

Joan Montané <joan at montane dot cat> wrote:

> As far as I see, my informal request for expanding current RIS design
> hasn't a good response. I understand it. Flags are cause of disputes,
> and it isn't an issue for Unicode encode them.

There are technical limitations as well. Because the mechanism is
already defined on pairs of symbols, it's not trivial to expand it to
three or more symbols. Earlier, you had written:

> I agree some strange behaviour can appear if a 3 RIS string, take CAT,
> is shown in a system with only 2 RIS support (a Canadian will appear
> followed by a T).

but in fact, every one of the combinations in the original post will
generate incorrect output (if any):

> [S][C][O][T] --> it shows Scottish flag

Seychelles, "undefined"

> [C][Y][M][R][U] --> it shows a Welsh flag

Cyprus, Mauritania, unpaired symbol

> [B][Z][H] --> it shows a Breton flag

Belize, unpaired symbol

> [C][A][T] --> it shows Catalan flag

Canada, unpaired symbol

> [E][U][S] --> it shows a Basque flag

"Undefined" (or European Union if the implementation happens to include
an extension to ISO 3166 exceptionally reserved code elements), unpaired

> [G][A][L] --> it shows a Gallician flag

Gabon, unpaired symbol

In order to make a system like this work with an arbitrary number of
symbols, a terminating symbol would have to be defined. Finding the
longest match between a string of symbols and a TLD wouldn't work;
someone might really want to encode "Brazil, United States, Sweden,
Lesotho" consecutively, and would not want this converted to "Brussels."

And as Ken pointed out, TLDs are TLDs; they are not a general-purpose
geographic coding system. They don't include every sub-national region
or separatist group, only the ones that Donuts and similar companies
chose to register. There's no TLD for Abkhazia, for example, or for

> IMHO keept tied to 2-alpha codes is a poor choice for users. May be
> industry manufactures could find a better approach.

Let's hope that industry manufacturers adhere to the standard instead of
going off on their own. I thought that was the idea when all these
cell-phone symbols were added to Unicode in the first place.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA | http://ewellic.org

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