abstract characters, semantics, meaningful transformations ... Was: Tibetan Paluta

David Starner via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Mon May 1 19:01:08 CDT 2017

On Mon, May 1, 2017 at 7:26 AM Naena Guru via Unicode <unicode at unicode.org>

> This whole attempt to make digitizing Indic script some esoteric,
> 'abstract', 'semantic representation' and so on seems to me is an attempt
> to make Unicode the realm of the some super humans.
Unicode is like writing. At its core, it is a hairy esoteric mess; mix
these certain chemicals the right ways, and prepare a writing implement and
writing surface in the right (non-trivial) ways, and then manipulate that
implement carefully to make certain marks that have unclear delimitations
between correct and incorrect. But in the end, as much of that is removed
from the problem of the user as possible; in the case of modern
word-processing system, it's a matter of hitting the keys and then hitting
print, in complete ignorance of all the silicon and printing magic going on

Unicode is not the realm of everyone; it's the realm of people with a
certain amount of linguistic knowledge and computer knowledge. There's only
a problem if those people can't make it usable for the everyday programmer
and therethrough to the average person.

> The purpose of writing is to represent speech.
Meh. The purpose of writing is to represent language, which may be
unrelated to speech (like in the case of SignWriting and mathematics) or
somewhat related to speech--very few forms of writing are direct
transcriptions of speech. Even the closest tend to exchange a lot of
intonation details for punctuation that reveals different information.

> English writing was massacred when printing was brought in from Europe.
No, it wasn't. Printing made no difference to the fact that English has a
dozen vowels with five letters to write them. The thorn has little impact
on the ambiguity of English writing. The problem with printing is that it
fossilizes the written language, and our spellings have stayed the same
while the pronunciations have changed. And the dissociation of sound and
writing sometimes helps English; even when two English speakers from
different parts of the world would have trouble understanding each other,
writing is usually not so impaired.
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