Status of the mapping proposals?

Andrew Sullivan ajs at
Fri Apr 24 16:51:04 CEST 2009

On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 03:21:58AM +0200, Elisabeth Blanconil wrote:

> --  (ii) A change to the ACE prefix from "xn--"
> This is not the case. However ASCII case sensitive support may require an
> additional prefix.

As far as I understand it, ASCII case-sensitivity was _never_ a goal.
If it is, I will have to object very strongly.

The DNS has from the very beginning been case-insensitive, even though
case-preserving.  If I had my way, that decision wouldn't have been
taken; but it was, and for historical reasons it was a reasonable
decision at the time.

It would be a complete violation of user expectations, built over a
long period of time, if we did anything to change that.  We know that
the user typing into what I have come to think of as an IDNA2008
"resolution-like context" are in fact typing into a UI that will
transform some characters into something else.  But _that makes no
difference_ to the users.  None of them know, or ought to need to
know, that in IDNA2008-BrowserM is in any way
different from, especially since in
IDNA2003-BrowserM the same pair resolve to exactly the same thing.
It's somewhat different for non-ASCII characters, because the history
of those is shorter and installing an IDNA-aware client entails,
presumably, some awareness that non-ASCII characters become available
in some sense.  But the ASCII rules are old and well-established.

This is a hard techno-environment limitation.  We can hate it if we
like, but that doesn't change it.

It's too bad that there are places where language has been encoded
historically such that the character "E" does not just correspond to a
lower-case "e" but also corresponds to "é" in some cases.  But we
can't change the past.  Conventions -- of spelling, of language, of
politics, of what you like -- are human-created, yes, but that doesn't
mean they're any less facts of the world for it.  We're stuck with the
weight of history on our shoulders, and those conventions that have
arisen in the past (however they did) have shaped the world in which
we live.  

If you prefer to read simlar arguments in a different language (say,
French), you may consult Foucault, Latour, and even Derrida (if I read
him correctly -- that's assuming a lot, of course).  Or, in German,
Wittgenstein or even, obliquely, Barbara Duden.  (If you want to argue
about more abstruse examples of the same argument from other cultures
or authors, I'm happy to do so off-list.)


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at
Shinkuro, Inc.

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