(no subject)

Sean M. Burke sburke@cpan.org
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 05:08:33 -0700

At 11:22 2002-12-06 +0000, Jon Hanna wrote:
>The idea of a separate header for orthography has a lot going for it.[...]

On the other hand:

* All other things being equal (which they never are), if we did introduce 
orthography as yet another header, we could wait until the Sun goes red 
giant before any of the browsers/clients and servers actually implement 
content negotiation along this extra dimension, since people would be few 
and far between who would see any utility to it.  "What's that 
for?"  "Well, you see, in Yiddish, Mongolian, and Serbo-Croatian, there's 
several scripts..." "Right, sure, I'll get RIGHT on that, for our big 
Judeo-Mongolian market.  OK, leave now."

* People's orthographic/script preferences are almost always attached to 
particular languages (at least for languages they actually understand, 
which is 99% of what we should be interested in here).  So suppose I like 
Mongolian to appear in Cyrillic, instead of in that pretty but difficult 
vertical Old Script.  My choice for Cyrillic there shouldn't be taken to 
mean I like Cyrillic GENERALLY -- because I still prefer to read Mari in 
Latin script; but going the other way, I still like my Serbian to be in 
Cyrillic.  Why?  Because that's the way I learned these languages.
Similarly, the fact that I want my Austrian German in 1996 spelling reform 
style shouldn't implicate anything at all about my preferences relative to 
spelling reforms (in 1996 or otherwise) in other languages.  So that means 
that orthographic preferences aren't free-floating things, but are bound to 
languages, and so are better attached to language primary-tags than off on 
their own.

This situation rather suggests that there is a great deal of validity to 
saying that Mongolian-in-Cyrillic is in fact a kind of Yiddish, as opposed 
to being /merely/ the co-occurrence of two abstractions, one called 
Mongolian, and one called Cyrillic.  While we are quite free to view it as 
a co-occurrence of two abstractions, I don't think that that's the way that 
describes how users (as opposed to freelance Platonists) actually want to 
deal with it, nor is it the way that describes the internal structure of 
the approach that will solve people's problems the best way -- i.e., in 
offering them a simple way to express what languages they want in what 
scripts and have content-negotiation work based on that.

Sean M. Burke    http://search.cpan.org/author/sburke/