Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

Neil Harris neil at tonal.clara.co.uk
Mon Oct 3 13:33:30 CDT 2016

On 03/10/16 18:59, Steve Swales wrote:
>> On Oct 3, 2016, at 10:14 AM, Doug Ewell <doug at ewellic.org> wrote:
>> a.lukyanov wrote:
>>> I think that the right thing to do would be to create several new
>>> control/formatting characters, like this:
>>> "previous character is superscript"
>>> "previous character is subscript"
>>> "previous character is small caps (for use in phonetic transcription
>>> only)"
>>> "previous character is mathematical blackletter"
>>> etc
>>> Then people will be able to apply this features on any character as
>>> long as their font supports it.
>> I happen to think this would be exactly the wrong thing to do,
>> completely contrary to the principles of plain text that Unicode was
>> founded upon. But you never know what might gain traction, so stay
>> tuned.
> I guess I don’t see how it is fundamentally different from other variant selector uses within Unicode, and the ability to write properly formatted mathematical and chemical formulas (for example) in a plain text environment like text messaging seems like a fairly compelling use case.
> -steve

Yes, but since there are existing well-standardized higher-level 
protocols already in existence (HTML, MATHML, TeX, etc. etc.) that do 
exactly that. They should be used instead, as opposed to trying to make 
Unicode something other than a plain-text character encoding, contrary 
to its design principles. Moreover, while you describe seems 
superficially simple, as soon as you try to expand it, you will find you 
end up with systems like this: 
http://unicode.org/notes/tn28/UTN28-PlainTextMath.pdf which are neither 
one nor the other, and in spite of their proposal as a plain-text 
notation, actually ends up being an ad-hoc higher-level protocol anyway.


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