Unicode Discussion

Antonio Carlos da Rocha Costa rocha at ATLAS.UCPEL.TCHE.BR
Thu Jul 10 16:06:40 UTC 2003

Valerie, Stuart, Dan...

  Yes, after talking with Valerie about the "position symbols" she
uses when spelling signs in SignBank, I changed my mind about the
possibility of encoding SW in Unicode.

  The problem is this: SW signs are written in two dimensions. Unicode
is mainly directed to writing systems of oral languages, that are
unidimensional (either horizontally or vertically).

  In unidimensional writing, the position information needed about the
symbols is where each one is in the sequence of symbols that
constitute a word or phrase.

  In SW, due to the writing on the two dimensions of a surface (paper
or screen), one needs two position information to locate a symbol,
let's say, its "x" and its "y" coordinates. Following the SignWriter
way to encoded, each such information is relative to a virtual box
encompassing each sign (the "signbox"), so the values of "x" and "y"
are kept relatively small (in fact, varying from 0 to 48).

  The trouble I had was this: is Unicode able to encode those two
"x" and "y" position information needed for each symbol in a text?

  The answer I got after talking to Valerie about that is positive.
Namely, when she spells a sign in its full content in SignBank, she
uses the so-called "position symbols" to indicate where each symbol
fits in the sign.

  If those "position symbols" are, then, included in the Unicode
encoding of SW, they can follow each symbol, giving the precise
"x" and "y" information for each one.

  Thus, the answer I have, at the moment, is: SW is encodable in
Unicode, if each sign is taken in its full spelling, according to
the way Valerie spells them in SignBank. The "position symbols"
will have to enter the code as symbols that should not be
visually displayed (as, for instance, the "end-of-line" characters
that every editor puts at the end of every line, in a text.

  Sure, the programs that will be able to handle such encoding, will
have to be able to understand such "position symbols" in the
appropriate way. But that is another matter.

  I think this shows an unexpected importance that the work on
spelling signs have: they are the key to the proper encoding of
signs in Unicode.

  I hope this helps to support Stuart's effort in his SW-Unicode

  All the best,

  Antonio Carlos

> SignWriting List
> July 9, 2003
> Dear SW List, Stuart, Dan....
> Regarding Unicode, Antonio Carlos and I did discuss it briefly, and
> after going back and forth, I understand that Antonio Carlos thinks
> Unicode might work perhaps, because of certain location symbols I put
> into the "look-up sequences" in SignBank...We do not write with those
> symbols, but they are useful for placing signs in a detailed
> sequence...so I will let Antonio Carlos explain his points on this
> issue...it is related to X-Y coordinates, and the question of how
> Unicode would handle the relationship of one symbol inside a sign, with
> another symbol inside a sign...I am not sure what to think, so I look
> forward to the discussion!
> Val ;-)

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