Writing a proposal for an unusual script: SignWriting

From: steve (slevinski@gmail.com)
Date: Fri Jun 11 2010 - 14:39:39 CDT

  • Next message: Kenneth Whistler: "Re: Writing a proposal for an unusual script: SignWriting"

    Greetings Unicode List,

    I'm working on a character encoding model for SignWriting. I just
    finished the 3rd major revision. Instead of needing an entire plane, I
    only need 1280 code points. Since 1024 code points have already been
    tentatively reserved for SignWriting on the SMP (1d8 thru 1db), I'm very
    happy with my latest update.

    SignWriting is an unusual script because it does not follow the same
    rules as other script. I do not believe SignWriting can be changed to
    follow the same rules without breaking the script.

    Before discussing the primary difference, I'd like to stipulate three
    assumptions. First, sign languages are real human languages. Second,
    sign language can be written. Third, SignWriting can write sign

    We have an international user base. People write by hand or computer.
    We have tens of thousands of signs in different sign languages from
    around the world. We have hundreds of documents including "The Cat in
    the Hat" (translated with permission), whole books of the Bible, and
    others. All of this writing can be encoded using 1280 code points. I
    have a 12-bit encoding with bi-directional conversion with UTF-8 working
    for planes 1, 15, or 16. I'm currently using plane 15: fd800 thru

    The primary difference between SignWriting and other scripts is that
    SignWriting is a spatial script. The graphemes of SignWriting are not
    written sequentially and do not have definable attachment points.
    Imagine a two dimensional canvas. The graphemes can be written anywhere
    on the canvas. A completed sign (or word) will consist of several
    graphemes spatially arranged on a canvas. There is an infinite number
    of signs that can be created.

    A spatial script requires a coordinate system, either cartesian or
    polar. I do not believe Unicode currently includes any spatial scripts,
    but it is impossible to use SignWriting without a coordinate system.

    The character encoding model is called Binary SignWriting and is
    documented online:

    All of the graphemes of the script are documented and encoded.

    I was hoping to start on the Unicode Proposal in the near future.

    Any suggestions, comments or discussion is welcome.


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