[Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]

Kenneth Whistler kenw at sybase.com
Wed Apr 9 16:24:23 CEST 2003

------------- Begin Forwarded Message -------------

Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 15:20:27 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]
To: jcowan at reutershealth.com
Cc: ietf-langauges at iana.org, jseng at pobox.org.sg, kenw at birdie.sybase.com
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-MD5: Hhwy63KnI/p1VPM/R9BDvQ==
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-MIME-Autoconverted: from QUOTED-PRINTABLE to 8bit by olympus-dublin.sybase.com 
id h39MKRE22122


> > "Traditional Chinese" and "Simplified Chinese" are distinct
> > *orthographies* for written Chinese.
> > 
> > They are *not* distinct scripts.
> I was speaking solely in the ISO 15294 context.  Clause 3.7 of the DIS says:
> # 3.7
> # script
> # A set of graphic characters used for the written
> # form of one or more languages.  (ISO/IEC 10646-
> # 1) (fr 3.6 écriture)

This is clearly insufficient as a *definition* of a script.
It applies equally well to an alphabet, for example.
(Not that I'm claiming that the Unicode Standard does any
better in *defining* a script...)

My point is that simply because some candidate "something"
fits this definition isn't sufficient to claim it as
a *script*. Otherwise I could come claiming I needed
script codes for the English alphabet, the French
alphabet, the German alphabet, ... ad naseum.

> # 
> # NOTE 1:  A script, as opposed to an arbitrary subset of
> # characters, is defined in distinction to other scripts; in
> # general, readers of one script may be unable to read the
> # glyphs of another script easily, even where there is a
> # historic relation between them.

This would apply to English written in IPA for most English
speakers. That doesn't make IPA a distinct script.

> I submit that SC and TC stand in precisely this relation, despite the
> substantial overlap in ideographs.  There is no algorithmic mapping from
> one to the other, 

which is part of the reason we are talking about an *orthographic*
distinction here, and not a style variant within a script.

> as there is in script variants like Fraktur vs. Antiqua.
> The fact that they are both used (by and large) for the same language
> and for no other is a historical oddity.

It is not. It was precisely and intentionally a systematic
orthographic reform *of* the writing system -- not an invention
of another script to write Chinese.

> That does not mean that in a Unicode context they should be distinguished,
> any more than the script variants should be.

Well, at least we seem to agree about that. ;-)

> > "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.
> But the *result* of that revolution has been a bifurcation of the script's
> users into those who can read only SC and those who can read only TC.

It isn't as cut and dry as that, by a long shot. TC users
have difficulty with SC, precisely because they haven't
been trained in the orthographic conventions associated with
many of the simplifications, true. But many others of the
simplifications are no trouble at all to them, since they
follow "traditional simplifications" in any case (examples:
the radical simplifications for 'thread', 'speak', 'metal',
'bird', 'horse', ... -- these take a few seconds to learn, 
and are evident and obvious to TC users). And
SC users can read TC in proportion to their exposure to
older forms in history and literature, etc.

> > The PRC seems to be more open to use of traditional forms,
> > where appropriate 
> AFAIK this has always been true:  Mao's poetry was published in TC.
> > 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. 
> A good point, but it proves too much.  Mongolian can be written in
> Cyrl or Mong, and transliteration is not possible (at least not as
> the term "transliteration" is generally understood, as a more or less
> mechanical and mechanizable process).  Yet nobody doubts that Mong and
> Cyrl are distinct writing systems for Mongolian.

Mong and Cyrl *are* distinct scripts. And when used to write
Mongolian, they are, indeed, distinct writing systems. The
same is true for any language whose written history has
involved switching between scripts: Azeri, Turkish, whatever.

This does not apply to the Chinese case, which is a deliberate
orthographic reform *of* the writing system, but a reform
which doesn't change anything fundamental about the script
except the conventional shapes used for many characters.
In the context of the history of the Han script, this is
just more of the same, and not a fundamental break that
would create a new script.

An example of an orthographic reform which creates a new
script, on the other hand, can be seen in Lanna and
New Tai Lü. New Tai Lü is a deliberate simplification of
Lanna -- but not primarily by deleting strokes off
characters and making their graphic shapes simpler.
Instead, it is a *reanalysis* of how the symbols apply
to the sounds, essentially eliminating the matras and
making the vowels all spacing letters to make it more
"Thai-like" in construction.


------------- End Forwarded Message -------------

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list