Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

Marcel Schneider charupdate at orange.fr
Sat Oct 8 14:45:28 CDT 2016

On Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:22:21 -0700, Doug Ewell wrote:

> Marcel Schneider wrote:
>> According to my hypothesis and while waiting, I believe that
>> the intent of the gap kept in the superscript lowercase range,
>> is to maintain a limitation to the performance of plain text.
>> I don't see very well how to apply Hanlon's razor here, because
>> there seems to be a strong unwillingness to see people getting
>> keyboards that allow them to write in plain text without being
>> bound to high-end software. The goal seems to be to keep the users
>> dependent on a special formatting feature and to draw them away
>> from simplicity.
> Hanlon's Razor doesn't apply here, because it's not a dichotomy between
> malice and stupidity.

*If* the comment[1] on the proposal to encode *MODIFIER LETTER SMALL Q 
had the status of a newspaper article, I really *could* apply Hanlonʼs Razor,
and the issue would be settled. Sadly it hasnʼt. More, this paper encloses
the only *known* reason(s) why the UTC was drawn to reject the proposal.

> Unicode has a particular definition of what constitutes "plain text,"
> and it's become evident over the past 25 years that some people have
> different definitions. That's probably never going to change (I
> personally don't believe the difference between black-and-white pictures
> of cows and color pictures of cows is a plain-text distinction),

Unicode has added the distinction between text style and emoji style, and 
I never doubted that there are good reasons to do so. As I understand it, 
this allows to multiply the number of emoji without any expense of scalar 
values, for the streamlined implementation of an enhanced performance of 
plain text. There is a big forthcoming benefit for users all over the world, 
not just Latin script, or not just one language community. Or not just 
the international keyboard standard, if this is the point here.

> but the Unicode definition is really the one that matters in discussions 
> like this.

This is why the proposer did use it. Letʼs quote him:

On 2010-07-13, Karl Pentzlin wrote:[2]

>>> French abbreviations of single words often are done by showing 
>>> the last letter, phoneme, or syllable of the word as superscript, 
>>> instead of showing an abbreviation dot or similar. 
>>> As abbreviations of this kind are plain text, the abbreviation method 
>>> being a fixed convention like the use of punctuation marks, it is 
>>> desirable to have the possibility to use modifier letters in this case, 
>>> rather than to have to rely on markup or higher level protocols. 

The Unicode Standard says:[4]

>>>> The relationship between appearance and content of plain text 
>>>> may be summarized as follows:
>>>> Plain text must contain enough information to permit the text 
>>>> to be rendered legibly, and nothing more.
>>>> The Unicode Standard encodes plain text.

On 2010-08-10, Karl Pentzlin wrote:[3]

>>> On the other hand: "Biblio^que" (abbreviation for French "Bibliothéque") 
>>> does not have the same meaning as "Biblioque" (no valid French word).
>>> Thus, here the use of superscript carries semantic, and is therefore
>>> plain text.

> What doesn't help, IMHO, is to claim that UTC has some ulterior motive
> to restrict the applicability of plain text and manipulate users and
> "draw them away from simplicity." I think insinuations of evil intent
> need to be better-founded than that.

First I wish to thank you for having posted this analysis, making me thus 
aware that the wording of my hypothesis was lacking clarity. 
The “unwillingness” that Iʼve deciphered, is NOT UTCʼs.

I think that a clear distinction ought to be drawn between *the UTC* as 
a whole, whose motives in this case Iʼve asked for and have not been 
given any idea, while staying firmly convinced that it is always benevolent 
and eager to help all language communities to express themselves and to be 
recorded, and on the other hand some hypothetical kind of lobbying that led
to produce the cited comment,[1] which in itself is enough to question the 
forces implied, and which interest they might have in keeping one language 
community away from fully unambiguous expression in plain text, and beyond, 
in unsupporting the work of ISO/IEC SC35/WG1[5] for enhancement and 
completion of the international keyboard standard.

There is also a *really long* answer in my (plain) text editor.
Itʼs finally not sent to the Unicode Mailing List. /*except on request*/


[1] The comment on the proposal:
[2] The proposal: 
[3] The proposers comment on the comment and the proposal:
[4] On page 19 of TUS 9.0.
[5] On Mon Jan 04 2010 - 19:37:45 CST, Karl Pentzlin wrote:

> Microsoft is to be praised for its engagement in providing localized
> variants of its operating system and other software, thus supporting
> the cultural diversity. It is a pity that the company did not accept
> the invitation to participate in the special area covered by ISO/IEC
> SC35/WG1, to support their own goals there. 

Please read full discussion:

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