New version: draft-ietf-idna-tables-01.txt

Vint Cerf vint at
Wed May 7 04:37:36 CEST 2008

thanks john for a carefully reasoned position. Put in the way you  
have, I could (personally) support the idea that these scripts might  
be permitted under the appropriate conditions.

Can we also hear from others on this please?


On May 6, 2008, at 6:36 PM, John C Klensin wrote:

> --On Monday, 05 May, 2008 18:16 -0400 Vint Cerf
> <vint at> wrote:
>> I do not believe we had consensus on the historic scripts -
>> just a discussion.
>> There seem to be more than ample ways to advertise the
>> existence of texts using these scripts without the need to
>> instantiate the scripts in DNS.
> Vint,
> Let me suggest a different theory:
> (1) The letters and digits of the historic scripts are not, in
> any way, less letters and digits than those of scripts that are
> more actively used.  There doesn't seem to be any disagreement
> about that.
> (2) As a group, the characters of the historic scripts are no
> more likely to cause serious confusion or descriptive problems
> than the letters and digits of more actively used scripts.  I
> don't believe there is any disagreement about that either.
> (3) Scripts and languages are classified as "historical" or
> "archaic" using criteria for which there is little consensus in
> the larger community (e.g., I suspect there are difference of
> opinion between parts of the linguistic community and parts of
> the cultural preservation one).  If one classifies on the basis
> of number of living primary-language speakers, one gets one
> list.  If one does so on the basis of a count of
> primary-language native speakers within some recent period of
> time, one gets different lists... and arguments about what
> period of time should be used.  If one adds "who are also
> literate in the written form of the language", then one gets yet
> other lists.  If one evaluates IDN-appropriateness on the basis
> of how many people use the script on a daily basis today (with
> "use" being reading and/or writing), then several of those
> archaic scripts have significant more users than some
> contemporary ones.
> Worse for our purposes, some scripts that were clearly of only
> historical interest a decade or two ago are being resurrected
> and taught in schools.  They are probably still a curiosity
> today, but some would predict that they would become significant
> enough in another decade or so to require reclassifying them
> (remembering that reclassification from DISALLOWED to
> Protocol-Valid is going to be more or less a big deal that
> should be avoided if possible.
> I also don't see making an exclusion of "archaic scripts in
> Plane 1".  While I don't personally expect any of the scripts
> that are there now to be used in many IDNs, I'm also looking
> toward the future.  In that future, I don't see room in the BMP
> for even one script with more than a few handfuls of characters
> in it (if I interpret the Unicode 5.1 tables correctly, there is
> only one block of about 260 characters left, probably only 255
> after allowances for block integrity.  Even one large-ish script
> and there will be no choice but to use Plane 1 space.
> To me, what this adds up to is that...
> 	(i) A restriction on historic or archaic scripts will
> 	require us to make another rule that we don't otherwise
> 	need, a rule that is based on blocks or enumerated
> 	script names, not the properties we are otherwise using.
> 	Keeping things as simple as possible argues that we
> 	should have as many rules as we need, but no more.  And
> 	I don't think we need this one.
> 	(ii) A restriction on historic or archaic scripts is
> 	likely to embroil us in arguments with scholarly,
> 	research, and cultural preservation and reconstruction
> 	communities that we don't really need to have unless
> 	there are substantive benefits to be gained from
> 	excluding these characters at the protocol level.  And
> 	there are no such benefits.
> 	(iii) Imposing this restriction and disallowing these
> 	scripts an the characters they contain raises the odds
> 	of ever having to move a significant number of
> 	characters from DISALLOWED to PVALID.   It is very much
> 	in our interest to keep the number of those cases, and
> 	the odds of finding them, as few as possible, whether
> 	one adopts a more restrictive or more liberal view of
> 	what it takes to make the move.
> Now, in my mental list of "advice I would give zone
> administrators who were interested in my advice", the very first
> one on the list is "don't register labels that contain
> characters from any script you don't understand".  An obvious
> corollary to that would be registry restrictions banning the use
> of any of these scripts unless the zone actively serviced people
> doing work in/ with specific ones of them.  I would expect that
> the number of such zones would be very small.  But I don't think
> the case has been made for banning these letters and numbers.
>      john

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