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

Debbie Garside debbie at
Wed May 7 09:52:52 CEST 2008



> -----Original Message-----
> From: idna-update-bounces at
> [mailto:idna-update-bounces at] On Behalf Of John C Klensin
> Sent: 06 May 2008 23:36
> To: Vint Cerf; Kenneth Whistler
> Cc: hmdmhdfmhdjmzdtjmzdtzktdkztdjz at;
> idna-update at
> Subject: Re: New version: draft-ietf-idna-tables-01.txt
> --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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