[sw-l] SOFTWARE: Still working on IMWA 1.1

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Mon Jan 17 17:47:34 UTC 2005

Yes, I believe so. From what I understand, IPA extensions are located
at 0250-02AF.

Really, the purpose of Unicode is not for "everyday use", per se. It is
intended to document all the writing symbols that are in active use for
every language on earth. Even though some of the IMWA may not be used
in "everyday use", it will be in use for research purposes which makes
it important to be a part of any Unicode representation of SignWriting.
Prior to Unicode, each language maintained its own encoding (numbering
system) for translating computer characters to their language. This
meant that if you got a Russian document, you must have the correct
Russian fonts that corresponded to the Russian encoding and then you
would see Cyrillic characters instead of Roman. That created a lot of
difficulty because you wouldn't necessarily know what font would be
necessary for which documents.  It created problems for international
interaction. This is exactly what IMWA is doing. That doesn't make the
IMWA a bad thing. It is valuable inside of the SignWriting community.

Unicode was developed as an independent numbering system for writing
symbols so that every writing system could have its own numbering
range.  Then theoretically, you could have one or more fonts that
contained ALL the symbols and be able to open up any document. Or you
can have fonts that contain symbols for selected writing systems.  That
is up to the font designer, but the document will still contain the
data in the language it is written for. This meant that when a document
contains multiple languages or writing systems, the renderer can know
what rules to follow to render the document because it will be able to
tell from the Unicode range what kind of writing system it is working
with. This means you can have many languages mixed within a document
and the document should be rendered accurately according to the rules
of that writing system.

 From this perspective of the intent of Unicode, I believe that the
entire IMWA should be in Unicode. Personally, I think it may be worth
giving the IMWA some time to settle before working on the Unicode
process simply because the IMWA will give us a way to think through how
to represent SW in Unicode (including the details of what is in the
font, what is handled by the renderer, etc.) and how to "translate"
between the IMWA numbering and the Unicode numbering system. With the
IMWA in place, we will have something to show to potential funders to
see exactly what the scope of the project will be.  The graphical
approach we have used thus far can serve as a model for what can be
done with SignWriting.  I think that Unicode SW with SMWL can be a
powerful combination, not to mention the savings in the size of the XML
file by replacing the IMWA number with the Unicode symbol.

Again, that is my 2 cents worth. Naturally, putting SW into Unicode
will be a big project, but I think it is a critical step in the
direction of having hearing recognize and accept it as a writing system
for sign languages since all other writing systems are available
through Unicode.



On Jan 17, 2005, at 10:51, Valerie Sutton wrote:

> SignWriting List
> January 17, 2005
> Bill Reese wrote:
>> Fantastic Valerie!!!
>> Congratulations!
>> I can't wait to see it and to see it used.
>> Can unicode development start now?  :-)
> Dear SW List and Bill!
> Ah...Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but it is a little too early for
> us to say it is finished. I was wrong in my previous message...I
> THOUGHT I was finished - ha! But we found some inconsistencies that
> need to be cleaned up before it is finished...So sorry for jumping the
> gun!
> So I am still working on it...
> Regarding Unicode development, Bill...My work on the IMWA (the
> International Movement Writing Alphabet) actually has nothing to do
> with Unicode. Even when the IMWA is perfect, I personally would prefer
> to let others work on Unicode, since it is a specific programming job
> that I am not skilled at. But I am happy to be an advisor to any
> Unicode project taken on by other groups.
> And no Unicode project has to wait for the IMWA. I would strongly
> suggest that the first Unicode for SignWriting should be based on a
> smaller symbolset...Which brings up another question...Is there
> Unicode for the IPA? the International Phonetic Alphabet? Because the
> IMWA is equivalent to the IPA. It is not a symbolset for "everyday
> use'...But most Unicode projects are for everyday use, I believe...
> Val ;-)

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