14.883, All: Unicode - Mystery Solved By LINGUIST

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Thu Mar 27 05:36:14 UTC 2003

LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-883. Thu Mar 27 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.883, All: Unicode - Mystery Solved By LINGUIST

Moderators: Anthony Aristar, Wayne State U.<aristar at linguistlist.org>
            Helen Dry, Eastern Michigan U. <hdry at linguistlist.org>

Reviews (reviews at linguistlist.org):
	Simin Karimi, U. of Arizona
	Terence Langendoen, U. of Arizona

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Date:  27 Mar 2003 05:26:41 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  The Mystery of Unicode Revealed - The Future of Linguistics

Date:  27 Mar 2003 03:10:28 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  The People Your Donations Support - Spotlight Zhenwei Chen

Date:  Wed, 26 Mar 2003 21:56:41 +0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  How to Donate and The LINGUIST List Hall of Fame

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  27 Mar 2003 05:26:41 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  The Mystery of Unicode Revealed - The Future of Linguistics

Have you ever been confused by Unicode? Do you wonder why you get
little squares on your browser instead of IPA symbols? This time last
year as we began to launch areas of our new Unicode-compatible
website, we had to answer questions like these and many others from
our subcribers. We truly believe Unicode is the way forward for
linguistics on the web, and we hope that the following messages will
be useful and informative for you. If you learn something, please make
a donation to our fund drive and help us continue with valuable
research like this.

 | $50,000  |  $25,034.91  |       482        |      2.84%      |

Dear Linguists,

The International Phonetic Alphabet is one of a linguist's most useful
tools.  Imagine for a moment how much more difficult research would be
without it.  If there was no widely accepted system for transcription,
every example would have to be explicitly associated with a
comprehensive key, otherwise a researcher could never confidently
interpret the writer's meaning.  Similarly, interpretation would be
unreliable if multiple sounds could be represented by the same
character, or vice versa.

You probably will not need to tax your imaginations too hard, because
such a scenario applies to using IPA with a computer.  Indeed, it
applies for using most combinations of scripts.  The English-oriented
development of the computer, and what is often a 256 character limit,
has led to the development of many different comprehensive keys (or
'character sets') to enable different scripts to be represented on the
screen.  A character set relates the character you see to a number
that the computer can understand.  However, the problems with having
more than one phonetic alphabet apply to having more than one
character set too.  Most problematically, it is very difficult to put
two different scripts in the same document because the same computer
number might have a different representation depending on which
character set you choose.  This is a real problem for linguists
because we often need to show several scripts together.  What we need
is something that encompasses all scripts and has a unique number for
each unique character.

There is such a thing: Unicode.  Unicode is an all-encompassing
character set that gives a unique number to every unique character.
So far, it covers 95,000 of them and this number is growing.  With a
single character set, you can show Hebrew, Arabic, IPA and possibly
soon Linear B side by side on the same page, something that was
impossible before.  Unicode is a very important and valuable
innovation for linguists, which is why we at LINGUIST List have put so
much effort into making our web site Unicode-compatible.

We would not have been able to do this without your support, and we
greatly appreciate it.  So we have produced a special Unicode thank
you page where we thank you in all the languages we speak - in the
correct script.  It is at:


Unlike some sites that might create such a page from images, this page
has genuine text.  You can copy and paste it.  You can even search it.

Unicode is a very new technology and systems are gradually developing
to make full use of it.  So while the correct characters appear for
Kannada on a Windows 98 machine, for example, only Windows XP can
correctly combine them.  You will need intelligent Arabic support that
knows to make the Arabic example read right to left.  To display all
these scripts, you need a comprehensive Unicode font that includes
them all.  Arial Unicode MS is one.  So if you have an older machine
without a large Unicode font, you might not be able to read all our
thank yous.  But you haven't lost anything; you can still read all the
characters you did before.  And as systems develop, making fuller and
fuller use of Unicode, LINGUIST List will be ready, providing truly
cutting-edge technology.

We have produced a small Unicode help guide at


covering the most common questions we have been asked about Unicode.
For example, you can enter Unicode IPA in many of our forms by either
left- or right-clicking the mouse.  There is a much more comprehensive
guide at:


which provided some of the Unicode facts for this message.

We are truly dependent on support like yours to guarantee our survival
from year to year.  In return, we strive to improve our services and
facilities so that we can be of ever-greater service to the
linguistics community.  Thank you to everyone who has donated already,
who often donate year after year.  If you have not donated yet, please
do so today.  And when you do, don't forget to visit our Unicode
thanks page afterwards.

Michael Appleby
Listserv Manager


Please help us develop key services and free tools that are Unicode

To donate now using our secure web form, visit:


For instructions on how to donate, or how to make a pledge now and pay
later, see the last massage in this issue or visit:


Thank you for your support.

-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  27 Mar 2003 03:10:28 -0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  The People Your Donations Support - Spotlight Zhenwei Chen

Zhenwei is one of our programmers here at LINGUIST. His skill and
determination helped us to implement the change to Unicode. Please
take a moment to read his personal letter to you all.

Dear Linguists,

I joined the LINGUIST List group at the end of 2001 after I finished
computer master degree. I have been working as programmer since then.
My work primarily focuses on the EMELD project and LINGUIST Job and
Review site subdivision. From my computer programming background,
working for the linguistic discipline is enriching my system
development experience. It's a great opportunity for me to develop
computer tools for the whole community to help linguists better deal
with the digital world. In the process of development, Helen, Tony
(site moderators), Martha, Veronica (linguistic professors) give me
plenty of professional guidance to make sure the new system meets
every requirement linguists need. Let me just mention two examples.

A Unicode-compatible web page is a longtime goal for the LINGUIST
website. Last year I worked on Unicode input tool to allow field
linguists to input Unicode characters.  Helen and Tony initially
blueprints this keyboard click idea. I discussed with them every
aspect of user requirement, and planed several possible
solutions. After several times of modification, the current version
includes all IPA and diacritics and other language scripts.

A Unicode-compatible database also presents a unique challenge for the
linguistic system developer. All the alphabets listed should be sorted
in appropriate order and searched efficiently. Acute C and Regular C
should be found side by side and rendered correctly. So the solution
is that the computer program has been designed to handle such
requirements; the works behind the scene make it possible.

At LINGUIST, I feel doing all these works are really reciprocating
experiences.  I have gained unique expertise from the discipline and
also I have contributed my knowledge to the linguists.


Zhenwei Chen


To find out more about Zhenwei, visit:



For detailed information on making a donation, please read the next
message in this issue, or visit:


Once again, thank you from all the LINGUIST List crew.

-------------------------------- Message 3 -------------------------------

Date:  Wed, 26 Mar 2003 21:56:41 +0000
From:  linguist at linguistlist.org
Subject:  How to Donate and The LINGUIST List Hall of Fame

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