Encoding italic

James Kass via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Thu Jan 17 02:51:48 CST 2019

On 2019-01-17 6:27 AM, Martin J. Dürst replied:

 > ...
 > So even if you can find examples where the presence or absence of
 > styling clearly makes a semantic difference, this may or will not be
 > enough. It's only when it's often or overwhelmingly (as opposed to
 > occasionally) the case that a styling difference makes a semantic
 > difference that this would start to become a real argument for plain
 > text encoding of italics (or other styling information).

(also from PDF chapter 2,)
"Plain text is public, standardized, and universally readable."
The UCS is universal, which implies that even edge cases, such as failed 
or experimental historical orthographies, are preserved in plain text.

 > ...
 > I think most Unicode specialists have chosen to ignore this thread by
 > this point.

Those not switched off by the thread title may well be exhausted and 
pressed for time because of the UTC meeting.

 > ...
 > Based by these data points, and knowing many of the people involved, my
 > description would be that decisions about what to encode as characters
 > (plain text) and what to deal with on a higher layer (rich text) were
 > taken with a wide and deep background, in a gradually forming industry
 > consensus.

(IMO) All of which had to deal with the existing font size limitations 
of 256 characters and the need to reserve many of those for other 
textual symbols as well as box drawing characters.  Cause and effect.  
The computer fonts weren't designed that way *because* there was a 
technical notion to create "layers".  It's the other way around.  (If 
I'm not mistaken.)

 >> ..."Jackie Brown"...
 > ...
 > Also, for probably at least 90% of
 > the readership, the style distinction alone wouldn't induce a semantic
 > distinction, because most of the readers are not familiar with these
 > conventions.

Proper spelling and punctuation seem to be dwindling in popularity, as 
well.  There's a percentage unable to make a semantic distinction 
between 'your' and 'you’re'.

 > (If you doubt that, please go out on the street and ask people what
 > italics are used for, and count how many of them mention film titles or
 > ship names.)

Or the em-dash, en-dash, Mandaic letter ash, or Gurmukhi sign yakash.  
Sure, most street people have other interests.

 > (And just while we are at it, it would still not be clear which of
 > several potential people named "Jackie Brown" or "Thorstein Veblen"
 > would be meant.)

Isn't that outside the scope of italics?  (winks)

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