Encoding italic (was: A last missing link)

wjgo_10009@btinternet.com via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Thu Jan 24 04:47:36 CST 2019

Mark E. Shoulson wrote:

>  It doesn't just take someone saying "out of scope."

It depends who it is. The theory is that people post in the mailing list 
as individuals, yet some people have very great influence.

>  It also has to *be* out of scope!

Maybe, it depends who says what.

> If someone chants the incantation, but I can persuasively argue that 
> no, it IS in scope, then the spell fails.

Well, that may work for you, it does not work for me. Decision is by an 
unnamed gatekeeper and the Unicode Technical Committee does not get to 
discuss it, and discussing whether it is in scope or not is not allowed 
on the mailing list, because discussion of the topic is permanently 

> Requesting the scope of Unicode be widened is not like other 
> discussions being had here, so it makes sense that it should be 
> treated differently, if treated at all.

Well, it does not make sense to me. If benefit could be produced by 
widening the scope of Unicode in some way, then it seems that it should 
be allowed to be discussed in the mailing list. And even if rejected at 
some time then still be allowed to be discussed at some future time as 
things may have changed.

> There were discussions and agreements made as to the scope of Unicode, 
> long ago.

Yes. Yet surely decisions made long ago should not lock out all progress 
as new ideas come along.

> And just like you can't petition to change a character name, no matter 
> how wrong it is, asking the Unicode consortium to redefine itself on 
> your say-so is -not going to be taken seriously either.

Well, to me it is not like that. Yes, "a character name, no matter how 
wrong it is," is part of the stability guarantee and cannot be changed. 
Adding U+FFF7 as a base character for a tag digit sequence to uniquely 
and interoperably and stably define a code for a specific meaning for a 
localizable sentence would not, as far as I am aware, break any 
stability guarantees for Unicode. That might widen the scope of Unicode 
or it might be within the present scope, yet either way if it would be 
of benefit to end users then it would be reasonable to consider the idea 
and not block its discussion: and it is not a matter of my say-so at 
all, putting forward an idea for fair consideration is not at all the 
same as dictating that something should be done on someone's say-so. Was 
the scope of Unicode widened for emoji? First of all emoji were encoded 
for compatibility, but the Unicorn Face changed all that and now it an 
annual "could be useful" exercise of generating new characters based on 
people's ideas. For the avoidance of doubt I am not against that at all, 
it is fun and hopefully will continue.

I appreciate that the particular tag sequences to follow U+FFF7 might 
not be encoded by Unicode Inc., they might be encoded by an ISO 
committee, such as ISO/TC 37. Yet encoding U+FFF7 as the base character 
would allow a link as interoperable plain text rather than needing to 
use what amounts to a markup system.

Yet please remember that Unicode Inc. has defined and published base 
character plus tag sequences for the some flags, including the Welsh 
flag and the Scottish flag. Recently I was informed that they are not 
part of The Unicode Standard nor part of ISO/IEC 10646.

It appears that a Unicode Technical Note is being prepared with 
recommendations of how to express teletext control characters using 
Unicode characters, possibly using Escape sequences.

So a Unicode Inc. publication listing numbers and meanings together with 
a context guide for each to help translation of meanings for a 
localization file of code numbers and sentences into a target language 
seems not unreasonable.

As an example, the vertical line used as a separator, as a comma might 
be used within the sentence itself, so not using a  comma as a separator 
of fields.

812|Would you like to go to the day room?

Not all codes would be three digits, some would be longer. Codes where 
the first three digits are all different from the other two digits are 
three digits long. Codes where the first and third digit are the same 
have a length of 3 plus the value of the third digit. So, for example, 
codes starting 313 are six digits long and are a set of localizable 
sentences intended primarily for seeking information through the 
language barrier about relatives and friends after a disaster. The third 
digit being zero allows for even longer code numbers.

> Discussing how to change the scope so that whatever-it-is IS in scope 
> is a very large undertaking, …

Not necessarily. If the Unicode Technical Committee were to consider a 
proposal and, after consideration and discussion were to agree to 
proceed, it could all be done within a short discussion at a Unicode 
Technical Committee meeting and then the recommendation sent to the ISO 

I am not saying that it should be or that it will be, I am just trying 
to say that it is not necessarily a very large undertaking. The Unicode 
Technical Committee discusses many things.

> … and would need a tremendous groundswell of support from all the 
> major stakeholders in Unicode, …

Quite possibly. And if there were discussion in the Unicode mailing list 
and the topic came up at a Unicode Technical Committee meeting that 
might happen.

> …, so you should probably start there.

Well, they meet at the Unicode Technical Committee meetings, so that is 
where I consider that the matter should be discussed. The problem is, it 
is not possible for me at present to get such a suggestion before the 
committee because it gets blocked and it cannot be discussed in the 
Unicode mailing list because the topic is permanently banned.

> "But so many of the people I would want to talk to about this are 
> right here on this list!" you say?  Be that as it may, it doesn't mean 
> the list has to grant you a platform.

That is very true. Unicode Inc. has no obligation whatsoever to allow me 
to post my ideas in the Unicode mailing list and no obligation 
whatsoever to consider my ideas for progress at the Unicode Technical 
Committee. I find it quite ironic that if this idea were implemented 
then demonstrations of what the system could do would be a marvellous 
example of what is possible in displaying the languages of the world 
using Unicode.


> Change the world on your own dime.

Well, I had not met that expression before but I have had a search and I 
think that I understand your meaning.

I am doing what I can. I am retired, at home, with a laptop computer 
with some budget software (yet very good software with which I can make 
fonts and publish PDF documents), an internet connection, and a small 
personal webspace hosted by a United Kingdom Public Limited Company for 
a small annual fee, so it is safe to access, it is not a server based on 
my home computer, I upload over the internet (it is a legacy webspace 
from a free-with-dial-up-internet-access webspace dating from 1997 after 
a takeover then another takeover, after the dial-up facility was closed 
yet I was allowed to keep the webspace with same original address.)

For example, as well as producing some scientific publications, I am 
writing a novel, chapters 1 ..72, 75, 80, 81 all written, published on 
the web for free reading and legal-deposited with the British Library.


If just browsing through, Chapters 34, 42 and 51 are good places to 
start browsing.

> "Unicode isn't here to encode cool new ideas that would be cool and 
> new.  It's here for writing what people already do. "

That may have been true once, and maybe that is still the theory, but 
the continual encoding of new emoji just does not fit that!

I did at one time, a few years ago, consider trying to formulate 
localizable sentences as emoji, each with a square glyph, but I changed 
from that when I realized that emoji do not have precise meanings yet a 
very important aspect of localizable sentences is that each one has a 
very precise meaning and is grammatical independent.

> It's as appropriate to demand that Unicode support these things …

One of the problems I get is the Aunt Sally suggestion, not only here 
but in posts from others, that I am demanding anything.

I am a researcher and I would like to put my ideas forward for sensible 
discussion. I am asking for consideration of my ideas please, I have 
not, and am not, demanding anything at all.

When people start making out that I am making demands it is very 
prejudicial and, I consider, very unfair.

By the way, I have been put on moderated post so please do not reply to 
the list unless you get a copy of this as from me via Unicode. I write 
this because I am not seeking to bypass the moderator's decision as if 
Unicode Inc. does not want any discussion of localizable sentences in 
its mailing list that is its right so to choose.

William Overington
Thursday 24 January 2019

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