ISO 639 - New item approved - N'Ko

Doug Ewell dewell at
Thu Jun 8 16:11:24 CEST 2006

Michael Everson <everson at evertype dot com> wrote:

>> Choosing between a plain ASCII apostrophe and a more typographically 
>> accurate, curly apostrophe does not seem to me to constitute 
>> "alternative names" in the same sense.
> So much so that I wonder why this is an issue. I mean really. Why is 
> this an issue?

I think it would be inappropriate and silly to use one type of 
apostrophe for the script N'Ko and another for the language N'Ko.  To me 
they are not "alternative names," but they create a completely arbitrary 
difference.  Searching would not necessarily work as expected, for 

>> We even went so far as to use the "acute accent" character, U+00B4, 
>> in the name "Gwich´in" because that is what ISO 639 used.
> You did WHAT? Oh, this is too depressing. The Gwich'in language uses a 
> glottal stop, which could be represented by U+0027 APOSTROPHE or by 
> U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, although the **correct** character 
> If ISO 639 is 
> using U+00B4 ACUTE ACCENT this is some sort of bizarre fallback, and 
> it is **not** what we should be using. We should use the correct 
> character (as we do in ISO 15924), and if ISO 639 is using the wrong 
> one, we should help them to correct it.

I found the thread in LTRU, from the 2005-04-24 time frame.  I had 
originally flattened all the apostrophes to U+0027 (also for Ge'ez and 
N'Ko), then Frank Ellermann suggested leaving them as the ISO standards 
had them instead of "second-guessing" ISO, and nobody else weighed in 
pro or con, so I put them back.  I did object that "U+00B4 is not even 
an apostrophe," but ultimately I considered my role to be one of editing 
the initial registry draft, reflecting the will of the list, not 
imposing my preferences if list consensus did not seem to support them.

> It is the codes (Nkoo, nqo) that are normative, not the descriptions.

The choice was between being (or appearing to be) arbitrary on our own, 
or accepting the arbitrariness of others.  We had recently taken a good 
deal of criticism for not justifying some of the decisions we'd made.

> Gwich'in should be changed to Gwich&#x02BC;in, surely.

Then this should be discussed here.  Please, list members, if you have a 
view on this, speak up within the next two weeks.

> typographical pairing and I don't suppose we need to have both.

Indeed, my original motivation was to avoid "having both" for N'Ko, one 
for the script and the other for the language.

We should focus here on Richard's suggestion to have two Descriptions, 
one with the straight apostrophe and one with the curly one.  I don't 
agree and apparently Michael doesn't either.  Do we need to restart the 
two-week review period?

We can always revisit any or all of the Description fields at any time.

Apparently there is no debate on the Suppress-Script field for N'Ko.

Doug Ewell
Fullerton, California, USA

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