Difference between Klingon and Tengwar

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Wed Sep 15 16:00:19 CDT 2021

On 9/15/21 4:47 PM, Asmus Freytag via Unicode wrote:
> It's a writing system that has global reach (even if not "high-brow") 
> and is actively, you could even say enthusiastically, supported by 
> systems/font vendors (and users).
I was telling someone once about Unicode: it's the standard for 
representing letters of all alphabets, etc, they're the ones who 
officially encode emoji, etc.  The response was surprise: "Why encode 
emoji?  Who uses those?"  "Um... millions of people, every day, in 
tweets and stuff?"  "Yeah, but apart from that?"  Well, yeah, apart from 
the people who use them, nobody uses them.  But that's true of English 
letters too.  Just that emoji usage wasn't "high-brow" enough for this 
listener, apparently.

>> It's more like encoding a brand-new character in the IPA that hasn't 
>> seen use yet, but we know people use the IPA and so this letter will 
>> be used.  (I know, the parallel isn't perfect: an IPA character would 
>> have been approved by the IPA, etc.  Try to see the forest for the 
>> trees.)
> When it comes to new items, mathematical symbols may be more similar. 
> Because of existing, parallel technologies, like TeX, it's possible 
> for that notation to innovate in advance of standardizing by Unicode. 
> However, de-facto, the collection is unbounded and actively being 
> added to. Not all fields of mathematics will ever expand with equal 
> popularity; so there's a similar issue with additions not equally 
> guaranteed to be of the same importance/ popularity/longevity.
Yeah, that's a good example, though math symbols also have to show usage 
before being encoded.  They have better mechanisms for avoiding the 
chicken-and-egg problem.
> When it comes to immediate support, currency symbols come to mind. 
> They form an unbounded set of their own, with active innovation 
> happening, but users not really having a choice whether or not to use 
> a new symbol (the only thing is that the currency could fail and all 
> usage to become historical).
This is probably a better example: there is built-in demand that we know 
is there, and it's adding a symbol to an "alphabet" that's already 
>> So, yeah, emoji are weird, but I don't think they can be generalized. 
> They fit the intersection between pictographic writing systems with 
> unbounded collection and writing systems (symbol collections) with 
> active innovation.
> To the extent that no other system shows just that combination of 
> trends you can't derive any parallels; on the other hand, they have a 
> define place in any Venn diagram of writing systems.
Yes.  By "generalized" I meant you can't generalize Unicode's treatment 
of them to other situations.  I think we're saying the same thing.


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