Re: Unicode & Shorthand?

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Tue Sep 21 2004 - 07:44:58 CDT

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    From: "Michael Everson" <>
    > At 18:50 -0400 2004-09-20, Ernest Cline wrote:
    >>From a logical point of view, wouldn't shorthands fit better in the
    >>Notational systems (1D000..1FFFD ) superblock than in the African and
    >>other syllabic scripts ( 11800..11FFF) superblock ?
    > Please understand: it doesn't matter.

    I agree, but many shorthand systems are not notations, but really some
    hybrid form of phonetic symbols and abbreviations of real words or parts of
    words such as common prefixes and suffixes.

    I talked about the shorthand used in France because it is a *standard* which
    was officially taught for decennials within public schools, and recognized
    professionally (today this is no more required) and that is still taught
    today in some private training courses. Many books have been published about
    it, but they are old (most often published in the 60's or early 70's) and
    hard to find today, or expensive. You can find them in public libraries or
    in some schools, that have difficulties to get new prints (so photocopies
    are used, sometimes with poor quality).

    There's apparently a need to renew the script by prividing it on Internet
    courses and publications, using a standard form (with caligraphic quality)
    that can be easily and coherently produced in a way which is not just a scan
    of handwritten paper, with lots of variations across writers (something that
    does not help recognizing the script for learners).

    If there was a way to recreate new courses with modern technologies to
    publish low-cost educational materials, such shorthand could be taught at
    low price to many students for their own notes. Traditionally this script
    was taught to secretaries, whose work has considerably evolved since
    computers have appeared everywhere on their desktop.

    There are still too many oral meetings where it is hard to find concrete and
    complete conclusions, because the summaries produced after them are not
    covering the past discussions. This creates additional costs because people
    need to rediscuss things that were already discussed or even decided in past
    meetings. To limit this cost, people are now required to come at meetings
    with precomposed documents containing all their arguments. They come with
    their own "final" conclusion fixed on their papers, and live negociation and
    agreement become hard to find in these meetings, where most people read
    their own paper that they don't want to rework after the meeting.

    Once again, many problems would be avoided if meetings were more open to
    discussions, and each proposal evaluated orally. Shorthand scripting would
    help people take precise notes, and produce later a better document whose
    content would be easier to agree upon by participants. Shorthand skills is
    still a precious thing for anyone that participate to many work meetings or
    brain-stormings. It would be useful also when negociating commercial
    contracts, or to accelerate those meetings (without needing to wait that
    everyone has finished taking his notes), notably during stressed situations
    where lots of things are discussed and many things forgotten before their
    application (people's memory can fail). More generally, shorthand skills by
    participants avoids much unuseful papers produced before and after meetings.

    I do not consider shorthand as a notation but really as a script, which, to
    be useful, must be readable with a good standardization level. The existence
    of such rules inner to that script qualify it as a true linguistic tool
    which goes further than just a simple semi-private notational system. The
    existence of training books (even if they are now old, like Foucher's one
    that speaks about a complete and simplified system) or training courses that
    persist today are proofs that it merits encoding to facilitate its teaching
    to more people at lower costs. Puting such script into an encoding is
    possible today, now that Unicode renderers have considerably evolved to
    support scripts with compex shaping and layout mechanisms like Indo-Arabic

    So we have capable renderers, but lack of encoding; the next step to have
    one would be to have fonts made for them. But is it possible to create such
    fonts without adding the encoding first, because of the way renderers can
    work with complex scripts?

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