Unicode Discussion

Ingvild Roald ingvild.roald at STATPED.NO
Fri Jul 11 10:05:40 UTC 2003

The idea of using polar coordinates seems very good. The problem of
changing from today's x,y to polar is a simple mathematical one, and could
easlily be built into the present program if that is neccessary. The need
for up- and down-sizing could be welltaken care of by such a system, as
far as I understand (I'm no programmer, but do know mathematics)


Stuart wrote:
>I haven't had the chance to study how Valerie has done the position
>symbols. I have only recently become free to start the process of
>studying these questions. This summer, I am taking literacy courses which
>focus on encouraging "mother tongue" ("mother hand"? SMILE) literacy at
>the University of North Dakota.  I hope it will be helpful for promoting
>ASL literacy using SW.  So I haven't spent much time on this issue this
>summer as of yet.
>My initial planning prior to receiving your email is very similar to what
>you have described. Rather than (x,y) coordinates, I was considering
>using a polar coordinate system. For those who may not be familiar with
>polar coordinates, essentially it refers to storing the angle and
>distance rather than actual (x,y) coordinates. Certain mathematical
>formulas can convert between polar and (x,y) coordinates. It is my
>understanding (and I welcome correction if I am misunderstanding), but
>the use of polar coordinates may be more useful when considering
>enlarging or shrinking a symbol as compared to using (x,y) coordinates
>because you can increase the size of the symbol and the distance by the
>appropriate ratio and then use the angle and distance to plot the symbol
>In terms of sign composition, I was thinking that a user could start with
>any symbol they wanted, and then the angle and distance would be noted
>for each symbol that follows. This is my starting point.  I want to study
>SWML in more detail and other encoding approaches to see where some of
>the challenges will occur. I thought this might be more easily encoded
>than a static (x,y) approach. Over time, this sequence would be the
>spelling rule, but initially, I am assuming that SW will go through a
>period where "spelling rules" will be difficult to enforce.  So, the
>system needs to be flexible to handle different spelling rules until a
>community decides on a specific spelling rule.
>I will naturally want whatever my research develops to be supportive of
>other initiatives in the SW community so I plan to keep asking for
>feedback along the way and studying what others have researched.
>Have you explored the use of polar coordinates before or have you chosen
>to use (x,y) coordinates simply because of the customary grid that
>SWriter used? Does anyone see a problem with assuming no specific
>location on the first symbol and allowing other symbols to "form" around
>the first character? Could you give me some examples if you know of any?
>This feedback will be helpful so that I don't waste my time on things
>that have already been tested.  If this has not been tested, I will plan
>to do some playing around with that (probably more after my summer school
>is completed) and see what pro's and con's develop.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: SignWriting List [mailto:SW-L at ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA] On
>> Behalf Of Antonio Carlos da Rocha Costa
>> Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 11:07
>> Subject: Re: Unicode Discussion
>> 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
>> initiative.
>>   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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