A last missing link for interoperable representation

Martin J. Dürst via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Mon Jan 14 03:57:18 CST 2019

Hello James, others,

On 2019/01/14 15:24, James Kass via Unicode wrote:
> Martin J. Dürst wrote,
>  > I'd say it should be conservative. As the meaning of that word
>  > (similar to others such as progressive and regressive) may be
>  > interpreted in various way, here's what I mean by that.
>  >
>  > It should not take up and extend every little fad at the blink of an
>  > eye. It should wait to see what the real needs are, and what may be
>  > just a temporary fad. As the Mathematical style variants show, once
>  > characters are encoded, it's difficult to get people off using them,
>  > even in ways not intended.
> A conservative approach to progress is a sensible position for computer 
> character encoders.  Taking a conservative approach doesn't necessarily 
> mean being anti-progress.
> Trying to "get people off" using already encoded characters, whether or 
> not the encoded characters are used as intended, might give an 
> impression of being anti-progress.

Using the expression "get people off" was indeed somewhat ambiguous. Of 
course we cannot forbid people to use Mathematical alphanumerics. 
There's no standards police, neither for Unicode nor most other standards.

> Unicode doesn't enforce any spelling or punctuation rules.  Unicode 
> doesn't tell human beings how to pronounce strings of text or how to 
> interpret them.  Unicode doesn't push any rules about splitting 
> infinitives or conjugating verbs.
> Unicode should not tell people how any written symbol must be 
> interpreted.  Unicode should not tell people how or where to deploy 
> their own written symbols.

Yes. But Unicode can very well say: These characters are for Math, and 
if you use them for anything else, that's your problem, and because they 
are used for Math, they support what's used in Math, and we won't add 
copies of accented characters or variant characters for style or [your 
proposal goes here] because that's not what Unicode is about. If you 
want real styling, then use applications that can do that, or try to 
convince your application provider to provide that.

(Well, Unicode is more or less saying just exactly that currently.)

And that's what I meant with "getting people off". If that then leads to 
less people (mis)using these characters, all the better.

> Perhaps fraktur is frivolous in English text.  Perhaps its use would 
> result in a new convention for written English which would enhance the 
> literary experience.  Italics conventions which have only been around a 
> hundred years or so may well turn out to be just a passing fad, so we 
> should probably give it a bit more time.

There's no need to give italic conventions more time. Of course they may 
die out, but they are very active now. And they are very actively 
supported in rich text, where they belong.

> Telling people they mustn't use Latin italics letter forms in computer 
> text while we wait to see if the practice catches on seems flawed in 
> concept.

The practice is already there. Lots of people use italics in rich text. 
That's just fine because that's the right thing to do. We don't need to 
muddy the waters.

Regards,   Martin.

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