New Unicode Working Group: Message Formatting via Unicode unicode at
Tue Jan 14 07:38:39 CST 2020

The reply from Mr Verdy has indeed been helpful, as indeed has also been 
an offlist private reply from someone who has, thus far, not been a 
participant in this thread.

Mr Verdy wrote:

> You seem to have never seen how translation packages work and are used 
> in common projects (not just CLDR, but you could find them as well in 
> Wikimedia projects, or translation packages for lot of open source 
> packages).
What seems to be the case to Mr Verdy is in fact the actual situation.

I do not satisfy the second of the two conditions of the invitation to 
join the working group. I am, in fact, retired and I have never worked 
in the i18n/l10n industry. Also, from the explanations it is not as 
close to my research interests as I had thought, and indeed hoped. I 
just do what I can on my research project from time to time using a home 
computer, a personal webspace hosted by an internet service provider, 
some budget software, mainly High-Logic FontCreator, and Serif PagePlus 
desktop publishing package, together with the software bundled with 
Windows 10. Older people are often advised to try to keep the mind 
active, so my research activity at least does that. If the research 
itself has benefits more generally in making progress in the application 
of information technology then that is an additional benefit.

One thing that of which you might like to take account and specifically 
"build-out" in computer formatting is a tendency that can occur in some 
computer systems software and also in everyday transactions also before 
computers became widespread, namely of not allowing a person to be 
recorded or listed with more that two initials before his or her 
surname, to the extent that some people even have a practice of not 
using more than two initials even when the document, such as a letter, 
or a form, before them specifically uses three or more initials. Common 
explanations are that "It's for the computer" and "Two initials is 
enough to identify someone" and "Someone could have many names". Yet the 
second is not true and the first is only because somewhere along the 
line someone has decided that that is how it to be done: the third is 
true, but the fact that that is the person's name on his or her birth 
certificate is the legal fact of the matter and so needs to be properly 
accommodated in systems recording names. Also, the United Kingdom and 
United States format of a given name, one or more additional given 
names, then a surname is not suitable for some other cultures. I 
remember some registration forms for college courses that would ask for 
surname and forenames, with a panel for each, together with a printed 
note on every such form "If your name cannot be expressed in that 
format, please write your whole name in the box labelled 'surname'".

However, with localization there are other issues. I seem to remember 
somewhere that people whose name is correctly expressed in a script 
other than Latin script often have a transliterated "Romanized form" of 
their name as well for use on travel documents. So will your format 
system include provision for this please, such as by allowing both to be 
linked together in a document please?

Another feature is that I have known people from various countries who 
have, in everyday use, chosen to be known in everyday workplace 
situations by an English first name rather than their official given 
name, while using their original surname, perhaps transliterated. So it 
would be good if the name format accounts for that too please, in a 
manner that does not give the possible impression of that use being for 
some questionable purpose. Maybe a new term such as ChosenSocialName 
could be used for that please.

An interesting facet of transliteration is that the name of a famous 
mathematician whose name was properly written using Cyrillic characters, 
was transliterated into English as Chebyshev, whereas the set of 
polynomials named after him are each designated by including the letter 
T. The transliteration of the name of the mathematician into German 
starts with a T rather than the C used in English. There was a short 
thread that explored within it this topic in this mailing list around 
the year 2000, not necessarily in the year 2000 itself, but I have not 
been able to locate it.

William Overington

Tuesday 14 January 2020

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