Archaic scripts -- the Battle of Examples

Andrew Sullivan ajs at
Mon May 12 15:21:42 CEST 2008

Dear colleagues,

On Sat, May 10, 2008 at 03:49:50PM -0400, John C Klensin wrote:

> I'm clearly a member of the "big deal" camp. 

I have been convinced by the arguments that moving things from
DISALLOWED is a big deal.  So count me in that camp too.

> At the moment (subject to refinement and more understanding and
> persuasion) my criterion for the gray area would put a script there
> if it met either of the following criteria:

[. . .]

I am nevertheless uncomfortable with John's criteria for "grey area
inclusion".  I appreciate John's reasoning for them, and if I had to
pick some criteria, these would probably be them.   But I am not
convinced that this working group, or indeed the IETF in general,
really has the broad participation of relevant anthropological and
linguistic experts to make this kind of judgement.  So I don't think
we should make it.

What I like about the overall "internationalize LDH" approach is that
it is conceptually simple.  It gives us some pretty clear guidance on
the cases that are problematic.  It allows us to use a set of
properties of scripts from some standard that does have the
involvement of the athropological and linguistic experts needed to
make the kinds of judgement in question (even if everyone doesn't
always agree with the results).  We know where the "land mines" are in
the DNS, so we can address those cases specifically, and just derive
everything else.

If we begin to deviate from this mostly-derived path, then we set
ourselves up as somehow knowing something about what "should" be
allowed in the DNS, on grounds of utility ("these historic scripts are
useless, so they should be left out"; "this particular historic script
-- or code point -- even though categorized like the others, is
different and needs to be allowed in").  Since different people will
have different views on this utility, it opens us to endless
discussions about what is in and out.

I've already argued for my very strong opinion that we should stick to
the smallest necessary set of principles for deriving PVALID and
DISALLOWED, erring on the side of PVALID if we can't be sure.  But if
we're going to disallow some additional class of characters, let us
not do it on a case by case basis. 

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at
+1 503 667 4564 x104

More information about the Idna-update mailing list