[sw-l] Are We Going in the Wrong Direction?

dparvaz at MAC.COM dparvaz at MAC.COM
Thu Dec 9 20:29:09 UTC 2004

> Unicode for Chinese does include various "code" symbols that indicate
> how to assemble some composite characters. That might also be possible
> to do here.

The problem is that Chinese orthography has (a) been "licked clean"
through millennia of use, thus drastically constricting the number of
potential placements, and (b) does not really say anything about the
production of Chinese beyond the syllable/word level. In other words,
positioning of a semantic radical or a phonological radical in a
character in a different position isn't really reflective of how the
character is pronounced.

If we want to tackle linearity, it's worth looking at where other
linear systems fail. So SignFont, HamNoSys, Stokoe, and related systems
have a limited number of characters for location, facial expression (in
the case of SignFont), and movement. However, coercing a 3-D language
into a 1-D string (a transform of a transform) has its consequences.
the strings are longer, sometimes torturously so, and another is that
simultaneity of articulation tends to get lost in the shuffle.

The fact is that we're dealing with languages that have more degrees of
freedom than a spoken language, and which, like it or not, have
pervasive imagic iconicity. Being true to these languages may mean that
we may not be able to grep as easily as we'd like to. I've had to learn
to live with that -- and thank god for XPath. :-)


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