LINGUIST List 2.308

Thursday, 20 June 1991

Disc: Character Encodings

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Herb Stahlke, RE: Diacritics
  2. , Unicode ListServ Subscriptions
  3. Paul Hackney, Character encodings: A reply.

Message 1: RE: Diacritics

Date: Mon, 17 Jun 91 12:43 EST
From: Herb Stahlke <>
Subject: RE: Diacritics
I missed part of the discussion on diacritics last week, so this may be
redundant. My apologies if it is.
An issue that seems not to have been addressed is sorting. A symbol code with
multi-character representation for diacritics is almost a must for languages in
which tone must be marked on each vowel for the orthography to be readable.
(The Smalley-Gudschinsky sort of orthography, like Hmong, in which tones are
marked by final consonants works only if there are no actual final consonants.)
Whether a sort needs to be sensitive to tone or not depends on the reason for
the sort, but that control needs to be in the hands of the user, not the code
designer. Allowing for separate representation of diacritics would permit
this. As I understand it, Unicode will allow both, which will lead inevitably
to problems of determining which representation is being used. A utility for
converting from one representation to another would be useful.
 Herb Stahlke
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Unicode ListServ Subscriptions

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 91 15:34 EDT
Subject: Unicode ListServ Subscriptions
In response to my suggesting that linguists interested in character set issues
subscribe to the ListServ, one reader tried and reported that
this ListServ does not support automated subscriptions.
A member of the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) reminds me that there are
three ways to subscribe:
>1. write a note to "" and publicly ask to be
> added...sometimes embarrassing...
>2. write to "" (Bill Tuthill) who maintains the list and
> ask to be added
>3. try writing to "". "Something dash
> request" is frequently the method of talking to a list maintainer.
He suggested trying #2 first.
Apologies for the earlier confusion.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Character encodings: A reply.

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 91 23:45:42 +0100
From: Paul Hackney <>
Subject: Character encodings: A reply.
> Date: Fri. 14 Jun 91 16:43:15 EDT
> From:
> Subject: Character encodings
> Mr. Hackney: May I suggest you read the (extensive) discussions on
> multilingual character coding...
 I am new to this discussion, so please bear with me.
> ...before speculating,...
 Am I not allowed to speculate?
> ...and before asserting...
 I fear I did not assert:
 "I am really convinced that this system should be adopted in preference
 to the fixed length encoding..."
> ...that ``the answer''...
 Aha quotes! Perchance to misquote is to slander.
> a variable-length encoding?
> PS Your `inferred explanation' of `floating diacritics' is incorrect.
 It is? May I be so bold as to expect and explanation?
Yours, humbly, Paul.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue