[Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]

Kenneth Whistler kenw at sybase.com
Wed Apr 9 15:27:36 CEST 2003


> Michael Everson scripsit:
> > Only because I'm not convinced that everyone is satisfied with Hant/Hans.
> What would it take to convince you?  (This is not a rhetorical question.)
> To my mind, they are clearly distinct,

"Traditional Chinese" and "Simplified Chinese" are distinct
*orthographies* for written Chinese.

They are *not* distinct scripts.

"Simplified Chinese" is a continuation of the millennia-long
evolution of Chinese, with characters getting simplified and
reformed. The difference from previous practice is that it
was an officially sanctioned *revolutionary* reform of the
Chinese orthography, enforced in practice and education by
a modern totalitarian state.

With the relaxation of ideology on both sides of the Taiwan
Straits, and with the change in computer technology brought
about by Unicode, I expect to see further evolution, however.
The PRC seems to be more open to use of traditional forms,
where appropriate -- any modern PRC character dictionary is
now full of them as alternates. And the use of reasonable
subsets of modern PRC simplifications is not unknown in the
bastions of traditional Chinese, either. Spread of Unicode
and of GB 18030 will only reinforce this tendency, since all
the characters needed for either orthography are available
now in the same software on the same platforms in the same

> and the fact that there are overlapping
> ideographs is no more important than that A is valid in Greek, Latin, and
> Cyrillic.  (Han unification and alphabetic non-unification in Unicode
> shouldn't affect the issue.) 

It has everything to do with it. Greek and Latin, by long practice
and by graphological consensus, are distinct *scripts*, even
though they share a common history. Greek language material
written in the Latin scripts is *transliterated*. Latin
language material (or any other language written with a
Latin alphabet) written in the Greek script just looks stupid.

This does not pertain to Chinese, which is one written language
(and occasional "dialect" materials -- actually other languages)
written in two orthographies of a single Han script. Chinese
is not *transliterated* from TC to SC or back, it is written
in one orthography or the other. TC does not look stupid written
in SC -- it is just Chinese written in SC. 

> My only question was whether they should be
> called separate scripts, in which case "Hani" becomes an alias for a
> collection, or whether they are called script variants.

They are neither.

That doesn't mean that labels in 15894 might not still be
appropriate, for whatever purpose. This, because 15894 contains
other things than scripts per se. And if use of 15894 codes
is the only way to get off ground zero for tagging
Chinese material for various information processing purposes,
then so be it. Just don't mis-sell the distinction as something
it is not.


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