my comments on draft-ietf-idnabis-bidi-05

Cary Karp ck at
Wed Sep 9 13:48:07 CEST 2009

Quoting Harald quoting Martin:

>> 4.1, para 1: "This marking is obligatory, and both double vowels and 
>> syllable-final consonants are indicated by the marking of special 
>> unvoiced characters." -> "This marking is obligatory, and syllable-final 
>> consonants are indicated a special unvoiced character."
>> (double (long) vowels are indicated in Unicode by their own combining 
>> mark, which is of course voiced. These are graphically in most cases 
>> just duplications of the single (short) vowels. The current text 
>> suggests a special "duplicate the proceeding vowel" sing similar to the 
>> one (sukun) for consonants, but such a suggestion is wrong.)
> I'll leave this to Cary....

The term "double vowel" (as "ao") does not mean "doubled vowel" (as
"oo"). But if it makes things clearer we can replace "...and both double
vowels and syllable-final consonants are indicated..." with "...and two
consecutive vowels as well as syllable-final consonants are indicated...".

>> 4.2: This section could be shortened considerably. "Greater latitude 
>> here than ... Dhivehi." is irrelevant; as long as a significant part of 
>> a language's words cannot be used in IDN, there's a problem. The 
>> subsection is interesting for people interested in Yiddish, but the 
>> average reader of the spec will try to find something relevant for the 
>> algorithm, and mostly be more confused than enlightened.

The relevance of including any tutorial material was questioned earlier
on, but if memory serves, we agreed to leave it as it was. If a reader
feels unnecessarily diverted into a peripheral discussion, we can
probably assume safely that they'll skim forward without allowing their
attention to the core text to be derailed.

>> 4.3: "(with the 5 being considered right-to-left because of the leading 
>> ALEF)": No, the 5 itself is never right-to-left. Change to "(the overall 
>> directionality being right-to-left because of the leading ALEF)"
>> 4.3: "but barring them both seems to require justification" -> "but 
>> barring them both seems unnecessary" or "but barring them both turned 
>> out to be unnecessary"
> I'll let Cary handle this one too. He's the Hebrew expert.

I'm not sure I understand the problem here, but "turned out to be" is
not an appropriate term for the result of armchair analysis. I'd be
equally happy retaining the current wording or replacing it with "but
barring them both seems unnecessary".

>> 6. "which might surprise someone expecting to see labels displayed in 
>> hierarchical order.": Please add that this may not be such a big problem 
>> to general users familiar with BIDI, because they are used to 
>> seeing/reading a sequuence of RTL units (e.g. words) from right to left.
>> (for wording alternatives, see 
>>, first para, *second 
>> para*, ...)
> Cary mentioned that registrations under .museum show that this is not so 
> clear-cut...

People who work in a BIDI environment have explicitly requested RtL
labels to be displayed in 3LD.2LD.TLD order even when the 3LD and 2LD
are pure RtL. We've had to register tandem pairs of labels as 3LD.2LD
and 3LD.2LD to meet that expectation. It may be fair to assume that this
expectation will change when RtL strings begin to appear as TLD labels,
but we can't shrug the problem off at this point.


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