Re: Naming of functional ASCII characters in Unicode

Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 14:19:26 EDT

Bernd Warken <> wrote:
> The Unicode ASCII range U+00-7F still shows elements of the out-dated
> glyph approach instead of the intended character abstraction. This mail
> tries to point out some places where Unicode uses a text-oriented
> naming, tho a functionally oriented naming would be more suitable.
There are a couple of major problems with this suggestion:
1. The Unicode/ISO 10646 names are normative, i.e. fixed and immutable.
2. There is an assumption that the ASCII range of characters is used
predominantly, if not exclusively, as programming elements. This is
incorrect: ALL English data, text and programs, use the ASCII range.
> Historically, the 7-bits ASCII characters were used for databases and
> programming languages.
Not true - programming languages and databases used these characters much
later than their use for text
> In later years, text processing required better
> representations for some of these functional characters. This led to
> extensions like the well-known code-pages, ISO character standards, and
> Unicode.
Again, this is only partially correct: the proliferation of various
character encodings had more to do with the requirements of specific
character repertoires for specific locales and/or functions than the
functionality of the ASCII-range characters; Unicode was an attempt to
reduce the numbers of these encodings. Modern software takes advantage of
many of the newer characters, e.g. smart quotes, etc.

> Unfortunately, some names (and glyphs) do not reflect this functional
> meaning.
Because there has not been a need to do so.


The examples show a common thread: a reiteration of the (incorrect)
assumption that the characters' original and main purposes was in
programming constructs, and a (doomed to failure) suggestion that the
immutable names should be changed.

The problems with disambigaution of the various flavors of quotes won't go
away just because the names change - most users don't know the names of
the various characters and care even less.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:03 EDT