Difference between Klingon and Tengwar

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Tue Sep 14 17:52:56 CDT 2021

On 9/14/21 6:07 PM, Ken Whistler via Unicode wrote:
> Mark,
> On 9/14/2021 2:31 PM, Mark E. Shoulson via Unicode wrote:
>> So, pursuant to Ken Whistler's advice from back in 
>> https://unicode.org/mail-arch/unicode-ml/y2016-m11/0091.html, I 
>> submitted a request 
>> (https://www.unicode.org/L2/L2021/21155-klingon-req.pdf) to have 
>> motion 87-M3 rescinded, thereby making it permissible at least to 
>> discuss Klingon on its merits.
> Note that my advice from 2016 spoke to the issue of *roadmapping* 
> Klingon -- not the issue of discussing it on its merits. There is, as 
> far as I can tell, nothing which prohibits the latter. And in fact you 
> have a fairly recent document in the document register to start that 
> discussion: L2/20-181. All I would suggest is that instead of 
> insisting on trying to find a specific niche in the SMP for it right 
> now, you just adopt the xx00..xxFF convention that is recommended for 
> early proposals, anyway, to disconnect discussion of the merits of 
> encoding from any argument about precisely *where* the allocation 
> might end up.
Oh, I'm fine with not knowing where it'll end up.  I'm just trying to 
proceed to whatever extent is possible, and I understood you to mean 
that before anything can be done, we have to get 87-M3 rolled back, 
because until then nobody can even contemplate any progress.  If 
discussing it on its merits is possible now, I'm certainly all for doing 
so, and indeed that's why I submitted L2/20-181 (admittedly, hoping that 
merits were going to be enough, which doesn't appear to be the case.)  
That was the discussion I had hoped to have at UTC#164.  Is it something 
that can be discussed now?

Hm.  I probably just copied the codepoints from earlier iterations; I 
should have switched to the xx00 notation, as you say.

>> Although a formal response is yet to be recorded, I have been 
>> informed that Unicode is declining to rescind its decision, absent 
>> some sort of consent from Paramount, etc.  And so I ask again: can 
>> someone please tell me what the difference is between Klingon and 
>> tengwar (or Cirth, etc) that one has this extra hoop to jump through 
>> (getting the decision rescinded) and one doesn't?
> It's pretty straightforward. The encoding of Tengwar and Cirth have 
> not ever been pursued so intently that the UTC was forced to push back 
> with a notice of non-approval (because of unresolved IP issues). 
> Klingon, on the other hand, was a case *both* for IP issues 
> interfering with a potential encoding that was being pushed *and* was 
> an early poster child for what was considered "frivolous" encoding by 
> many participants in SC2 as well as by many senior managers who were 
> paying the salaries of representatives they were sending to UTC meetings.
Mm.  So, victim of its own success, then (in the sense of vigorous 
pursuit of encoding while Tolkien scripts didn't have such advocacy 
(because they didn't need it, being sort of presumed suitable for 
encoding.))  And I'll admit it straight out: Tolkien scripts, IMO, 
deserve encoding more than Klingon does.  But that doesn't mean one 
needs to wait for the other.  (That's my subjective opinion, and I don't 
think it can count as an answer to my question about what the difference 
in treatment is based on.)

The "early poster child for what was considered 'frivolous' encoding" is 
(obviously) the label I am most eager to shed, and I hope to hear at 
least some recognition of non-frivolity or else non-recognition of 
frivolity (or failing that, *reasonable* arguments and debate on the 
subject.)  Perhaps that's part of why repealing 87-M3 would seem so 
important.  It wouldn't really move things closer to encoding, but it 
would lift the stigma of being singled out as "too frivolous," even 
though the ostensible reason given for 87-M3 was lack of usage.

Which I guess brings things back full-circle.  If the reason for 87-M3 
is no longer valid, why refuse to rescind it?

> You aren't going to find a distinction by rooting around in the 
> structure of the scripts themselves looking for objective differences, 
> nor by trying to distinguish them by details of IP claims. The issues 
> that matter are found in the social and economic contexts of the 
> encoding activities of the committees and standardizers.
Isn't that kind of embarrassing for an organization that claims/aspires 
to some measure of cultural neutrality and support for minority cultures?


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