Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c

Michael Everson everson at
Wed Dec 13 13:11:49 CET 2006

At 18:27 -0800 2006-12-12, Mark Davis wrote:
>On 12/12/06, Michael Everson 
><<mailto:everson at>everson at> wrote:
>Yeah, right. It's 01:00 and I'm going to have to deal with this
>tomorrow, but you DON'T know anything about Middle Cornish, and it
>DOESN'T fit into this kind of neat-and-tidy century box. Accordingly,
>I am suspicious of neat and tidy boxes. However appealing such
>"quick-and-dirty white-board" ideas might seem "good" to M. Davis, it
>is the case that M. Everson does his job with some diligence, and
>wishes to make sure we do not make a hames of this RFC.
>Dr Davis is looking forward the the explanation from Mr Everson as 
>to why a generative region is so much better than a generative 
>variant, eg that fr-FR, fr-BE, or fr-CH is so much better defined 
>than fr-1500s, and hoping that it will not simply be an ad hominem 

<personal discussion>

Mark, I found with your "cap-in-hand" remark to be offensive and 
dismissive. Now you want to play the Dr/Mr game?

Let's be up-front about it. I do not have a PhD. I might have done. I 
was in the interdepartmental PhD programme in Indo-European Studies, 
a long, 7-year programme without an MA. I disliked Los Angeles a lot, 
and wasn't interested in Homeric Greek, so I switched my credits to 
History, got my MA, and got out and went to Portland. That was a 
choice, not a failure. Later I was admitted to a PhD programme in 
Early Irish Language and Literature at University College Dublin, but 
I gave that up to in order to do useful and interesting work in the 
area of international character set standardization. That was a 
choice too, not a failure.

What is a PhD anyway? It's a book that someone writes which is 
reviewed by a small committee of other people who already have PhDs. 
They look at and say if it is good enough that the person who wrote 
it can also be allowed to call himself a "Doctor of Philosophy". Lots 
of people who have PhDs think it makes them better than people who 
don't have them. You tried to play this card here, it seems to me. 
I'm sorry to say so, but I found it to be offensive, and an attack.

I don't see much point in titles. Are you offended by being called 
"Mr Davis"? The N'Ko call me "Fode Everson", a word which means 
"professor" and is applied also to Solomana Kante, inventor of the 
N'Ko script. I try to live up to it. Someone on the Indic discussion 
list called me "Sri Michael" the other day. I don't think that gives 
me a halo. A warm feeling, perhaps.

Personally, I think the 200+ technical proposals which I have written 
over the past dozen years to add thousands of characters to the UCS, 
and which have been reviewed and approved by two rather large 
committees, are a far *better* contribution than any thesis I might 
have written about s-preterites in Old and Middle Irish. I suspect 
that the Tibetans, the Balinese, the N'Ko, and many thousands of 
others might agree.

You *do* have a tendency to favour "quick-and-dirty white-board" 
ideas, Mark. That's not ad-hominem. It's descriptive. Sometimes it 
makes sense, I am sure. You're a very smart person. But your proposal 
to give Polytonic Greek an ISO 15924 code was an example of what I am 
talking about. It might have solved a particular problem, but it was 
wrong in the context of ISO 15924. (Why? Because it is identical to 
Monotonic orthography except that it has six more Greek characters in 
it.) One must think things through.

</personal discussion>

>>And you didn't say anything about the other 19 centuries CE or the
>>BCE centuries either.
>With the addition of 7,000 new language subtags, all else pales in magnitude.

That's not an argument in favour of encoding bad subtags!

>But it also doesn't mean that every century would get its variant;

Why on earth not? Century-based subtags would obviously be part of a system.

>just that if someone can make a reasonable case that in one or more 
>languages a designation by century makes sense, then a variant for 
>that century could be encoded. It may even be the case that it is 
>limited by prefix, as 4646 requires.

That's MAY, not MUST, isn't it? I thought we just had a discussion 
about the fon- subtage.

>And I didn't say that I was wedded to this idea, just that I have 
>some sympathy for it, to the point that it is worth exploring, not 
>dismissing out of hand without playing out the pros and cons.

And I have argued that arbitrary calendar cutoffs don't make sense. 
1x00-1x99? Why not 1x50-1y11?

These aren't in any way equivalent to the ISO 3166 codes.
Michael Everson *

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