The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Mon Nov 7 16:36:32 CST 2016

I guess for this thread I should subscribe to the list with a personal email address.  Please don’t confuse my personal and professional opinions here ;)  (Of course I’ll probably confuse them myself).

<Microsoft hat off>

Personally, as myself, no Microsoft hat, I would be interested to see the base characters encoded, excluding the “mummification glyph” and your 2 created characters.  The mummification glyph seems decorative and I haven’t seen the others in use.  I would include the pIqaD comma and full stop, they seem to have fairly consistent use.  Their meaning is also more specific than the triangle glyph suggestions you mentioned as possible alternatives.  Since these are used in plaintext conversations and not merely as decoration, I think that attempting to overload the meaning of the non-pIqaD triangle glyphs would be inappropriate.

The enthusiasts using pIqaD, and the businesses targeting that community, have, in my opinion, reached a level of adoption that requires proper Unicode encoding to make further progress.  The current ConScript PUA practice is a decent hack to get things to work, but in practice there can be strange behaviors, particularly in more advanced aspects of character behavior.  Like the fact that the PUA range doesn’t properly describe the character properties of these letters and digits.

For example, Qurgh and others figured out how to get pIqaD to behave in Facebook posts.  The current Klingon word of the day posts include the pIqaD spelling, and some discussion happens in pIqaD as well.  However getting it all to behave is unnecessarily awkward given some of the current restrictions requiring using the PUA for pIqaD.

Mark, you missed that pIqaD has an ISO script code now (Piqd).  That might be worth mentioning.  The PUA encoding makes it difficult or hacky to integrate some features for the Piqd script in computing libraries, such as digit conversion routines.

<Microsoft hat on>

Professionally, I’m not sure if Microsoft has a current position on pIqaD.  As noted by Mark, the Bing Translator allows the use of pIqaD (tlh-Piqd), both for input and output.  I chose to use the ConScript PUA for that feature.  Had the pIqaD script been included in Unicode, we would have used the assigned Unicode codepoints instead of the ConScript PUA.


 <><>

From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mark Shoulson
Sent: ,  03,  2016 16:44
To: unicode at
Subject: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

At the time of writing this letter it has not yet hit the UTC Document Register, but I have recently submitted a document revisiting the ever-popular issue of the encoding of Klingon "pIqaD".  The reason always given why it could not be encoded was that it did not enjoy enough usage, and so I've collected a bunch of examples to demonstrate that this is not true (scans and also web pages, etc.)  So the issue comes back up, and time to talk about it again.

Michael Everson: I basically copied your 1997 proposal into the document, with some minor changes.  I hope you don't mind.  And if you don't want to be on the hook for providing the glyphs to UTC, I can do that.  I think that proposal should serve as a starting-point for discussion anyway.  There are some things that maybe should be different:

1. the "SYMBOL FOR EMPIRE" also known as the "MUMMIFICATION GLYPH".  I don't know where the second name comes from, I don't know how important it is to encode it, and I don't know how much of a trademark headache it will cause with Paramount, as it is used pretty heavily in their imagery.  Something we'll have to talk about.

2. I put in the COMMA and FULL STOP, which were not in the original proposal but were in the ConScript registry entry.  The examples I have show them clearly being used.  UTC may decide to unify them with existing triangular shapes, which may or may not be a good idea.

3. For my part, I've invented a pair of ampersands for Klingon (Klingon has two words for "and": one for joining verbs/sentences and one for joining nouns (the former goes between its "conjunctands", the latter after them)), from ligatures of the letters in question.  The pretty much have NO usage, of course (and are not in the proposal), but maybe they should be presented to the community.

Document is available at

Let the bickering begin!

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