Re: Character name translations

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:36:08 +0200

2012-12-20 12:52, Martinho Fernandes wrote:

> I was wondering if there is a list of character names translated into
> other languages somewhere. Is there?

The standard ISO 10646, which is equivalent to Unicode as regards to
character names, is published in French, too. According to
the English version is available for download, but the French versions
apparently isn’t (you would need to buy it from the ISO store, or from
an ISO member store). By the way, the FAQ entry refers to ISO/IEC
10646:2011 (E), which is outdated; I think the year should simply be
dropped. And the statement “The "(E)" and "(F)" in listings on that page
refer to English or French editions of standards, respectively.” is odd,
because it does not currently apply to ISO 10646.

Other than that, I think you won’t find any lists of character names
covering a large portion of Unicode. The largest I know of is a list of
about 1,000 characters (“European subset”) in Finnish published by the
Finnish standards institute SFS (in Finnish):

Though such efforts can be useful, and I was somewhat involved in the
work, I think the basic idea is questionable. The Unicode names of
characters are not “names of characters” in an ordinary sense. Instead,
they are alphanumeric identifiers for characters, with considerable
mnemonic nature, but still ids, not really names. The list of Unicode
names should not even be treated as a list of English names of
characters; many of the names are unsuitable for common use (or even any
use except as identifiers), or at least suboptimal for use.

It may be useful to try to agree on official or semi-official names for
characters in a language. Such a list hardly needs to cover all of the
over 100,000 Unicode characters. For the characters covered, the Unicode
name, along with the Unicode number, is a useful *reference*; but it
would generally be incorrect the present it as the “English name”. It
would be grossly misleading to call APOSTROPHE just an apostrophe, and
it would be odd to call FULL STOP a full stop in US English texts, and
don’t make me started on LOW LINE.

So Unicode names should not be translated at all, any more than you
translate General Category values for example. But composing lists of
Unicode characters in different natural languages (including English)
may be useful, especially if you concentrate on characters that are
important to an audience and have no self-evident or widely accepted
names; such as “@”, “~”, “¿”, and “≈”.

Received on Thu Dec 20 2012 - 05:41:39 CST

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