Tengwar on a general purpose translation site

Richard Wordingham richard.wordingham at ntlworld.com
Sun Mar 13 06:01:05 CDT 2022

On Sun, 13 Mar 2022 01:38:30 +0000
James Kass via Unicode <unicode at corp.unicode.org> wrote:

> Unicode's mission is to provide a standard encoding for the world's 
> writing systems.  Tengwar is one of those systems.  Suggestions made 
> earlier regarding working around the estate's bans aren't about
> fooling anybody.  Rather the goal should be to get Tengwar encoded
> while honoring the estate's wishes.  Such a blind encoding shouldn't
> be viewed as "pseudo-coding".  As has been pointed out, Unicode does
> not encode glyphs, so Tolkien's glyphs aren't necessary.  Chart
> glyphs could be control pictures along the lines of "last resort"
> fonts.  If the naming convention for CJK ideographs and other encoded
> scripts isn't good enough for Tengwar, then name them something else.

The script is already registered in ISO 363.  Thus I can't see any
objection in isolation to the concept of a character TENGWAR LETTER T
for what may more commonly be known as 'tinco'.  However, their
arrangement (see remarks on collation below) might be another matter.

> As Richard Wordingham has pointed out, the encoding will assign 
> properties to the characters so that applications can process them 
> correctly.  Collation and so forth aren't IP.  The actual users of
> the script will know the score and non-users don't need to know.

That depends on the collation.  A collation based on the traditional
tabulation of the tengwar might be protected by copyright.  An
underlying order 't', 'p', 'c', 'k' is original.  Now, a collation
based on transliteration wouldn't be protected, and has precedent in
the default collation for the Lao script, which is based on mechanical
transliteration to the Thai script.

> Maintaining the status quo until some future estate epiphany means
> that non-standard data will continue to proliferate.  The current
> situation has some texts using ASCII-overlay fonts while other texts
> use CSUR encoding.

The estate appears to be relying on copyright.  That generally expires
in 2044, on the 70th anniversary of Tolkien's death. 


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