_Logic_ for describing IPA as a script

John Clews Scripts2 at sesame.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 11 14:08:20 CEST 2003

At 13:19 +0000 2003-04-10, John Clews wrote
[Re: Why not? [Re: [Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]]

> >Otherwise, if we don't need such distinctions, why do we need
> >ISO 15924 (Codes for representation of names of scripts) at all?

In message <p05200a03babb8766364a@[]>
Michael Everson replied:

> We distinguish scripts, and we distinguish some important script 
> variants. We do not engage in subsetting of characters. That is a 
> matter for ISO/IEC 10646.

Ah, but here's where you may have backed yourself into a logical
corner: ISO 15924 and ISO/IEC 10646-1:2000 both use the definition:

        script - A set of graphic characters used for the written
        form of one or more languages. (ISO/IEC 10646-1)

NB: logically, a set can be a subset of a larger set, when the
smaller set has a distinct logical entity. Both are sets. We are not
asking for a subset.

You might argue that the notes for that definition get you out of that:

        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 (see 3.9).

        NOTE 2: In certain cases, ISO 15924 provides codes which are
        not subsumed under this definition. Examples: the codes for
        aliases and the variant codes.

However, I'd still maintain that they don't override the set/subset
possibilities outlined above, in fact there are particular elements
from each note that could apply to IPA as a set of characters.

Remember, standards say "For the purposes of [this standard], the
following definitions apply." They are there just to provide
consistent use and meaning within that standard (or a set of related

That use may, or may not, reflect a more general or widespread use of a
certain term - e.g. script.

A change to having a Script code for IPA, doesn't mean that we are
intending to change the meaning of the word "script" in wider use:
just the chance to be able to use a script code for IPA as "a set of
graphic characters used for the written form of one or more

There: that didn't sound too bad put like that, did it?

Best regards

John Clews
John Clews,
Director and Editor
Keytempo directory of musicians
Keytempo Limited (Information Management),
8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG, United Kingdom.
Tel:    01423 888 432  (mobile: 07766 711 395)
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