RE: terminology

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 18:22:29 EDT

> i18nGuy Tex Texin wrote:
> > This thread seems to have morphed from unicore to unicode.
> Indeed, and it would be fine if someone could shortly resume what the
> discussion is about.

Well I shall resume the discussion ;-), but first provide you with
a summary of what it is about.

One UTC agenda item last week was a proposal to get UTC input into
some tricky terminological issues that the editorial committee
has been working on for Unicode 4.0, to try to clear up the meaning
of such things as "assigned" versus "unassigned" so that they are
both terminologically precise but also do not depart confusably from
naive expectations about what they should mean. "Unicode scalar value"
was also up for lengthy discussion.

Somehow this morphed into an email freeforall about fixing bunches of terms
and the introduction of new ones. That turned into a gabfest about
"sentinels", "tags", "utility characters", and "zigamorphs". All very
interesting, but IMO not a whole bunch of help for the actual problems
that the editorial committee was trying to address.

The reality, from my point of view, is that well-established
but somewhat confusing terminology is not generally improved by
introducing less-well-established terminology to replace it. And
this is particularly true for the Unicode Standard, where my assessment
is that the introduction of a term like "utility character" to mean
not a graphic character, for instance, would be guaranteed to just
compound the problem of confusion about what is what.

We are stuck in history, folks. I think the best way forward at
this point is evolutionary clarification of the terminology we are
already using, rather than attempting wholesale names rectification
once again.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Mon May 06 2002 - 19:22:42 EDT