[sw-l] challenge for programmers

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Wed Jun 22 05:04:27 UTC 2005

See comments below ...

On Jun 21, 2005, at 21:15, Valerie Sutton wrote:
> OK. What about SVG? I remember years ago, Antonio Carlos came to visit
> me from Brazil, and was eager to explain both SWML and SVG to me...I
> remember feeling amazed at the possibilities when he showed me a
> SignWriting symbol being drawn on the web in front of my eyes in
> SVG...Now that we see that SWML is really becoming important, I wonder
> if SVG isn't next?

SVG is a way of encoding images in XML.  So SWML and SVG would be
another approach.  However, if you want to think about it politically,
it would be perceived as the difference between writing SW and drawing
SW.  Unicode would be perceived as writing SW.  SVG could be perceived
as drawing SW.  That doesn't mean that SVG is a bad technology for SW.
Anything and everything that can help us make SW more available is
important to use.  I'm just talking about the politics and how hearing
might perceive it.

> That does not mean that I don't think Unicode is a terrific idea...it
> is just that Unicode takes money and time, and if PNG display is the
> only alternative right now, then maybe SVG could be another
> alternative until Unicode is available for SignWriting?

Yes it certainly is one alternative we should consider.

> Did you know that the French have interest in developing a way to
> apply SignWriting to Unicode? I wonder if Mr. Dalle and Mr. Aznar from
> France wouldn't be interested in working with SIL on the Unicode
> project? Do you think SIL could be interested?...

While I can't discuss any details at this time because many details are
still in the air, I know that both SIL and Pass It On Services will
want to see the development of an international team so that various
perspectives and SL backgrounds are included.  We have not gotten to
the details on that point, so I can't make any firm statements one way
or another at this time.  But we would certainly could be open to their

> Thanks for your patience with me and all those symbols in the
> IMWA!...I actually am not necessarily in favor of placing the whole
> IMWA into Unicode. I think we should do a Symbol-Frequency test on
> dictionaries to pin down the symbols that you really are using, and
> then use the Language-specific symbolset to be the first SignWriting
> Unicode...in other words...Unicode US, Unicode NO, etc...based on only
> those SignWriting symbols used in one language...why slow down the
> Unicode development for SignWriting, just  because DanceWriting has
> not been entered into the IMWA yet? And is there really a Unicode for
> music sounds? No. So why should DanceWriting be in Unicode?...Unicode
> should be for SignWriting specific to one sign language...

Actually, I do believe musical notation is already in Unicode 3.1  in
Blocks (U+1D000 to U+1D0FF) and (U+1D100 to U+1D1FF).  All the symbols
are available, but Unicode itself does not specify how the symbols are
to be used.  That is left to the program and the renderer itself.

So, yes, I actually do think that we should have the entire IMWA
available in Unicode. Unicode does not divide characters by language,
but by writing system.  So you have the Latin or Roman characters in
one space, and the Greek writing in another space, and the Japanese in
another space.  But the separation is based on writing system, not on
languages themselves.

The same would be true of SignWriting.  All of the symbols should be
available in Unicode at some point. Then different sign languages can
use the code points that relate to their sign language. So that would
make SignWriting very handy because it wouldn't matter what kind of
movement writing you are doing as long as the software knows how to
assemble the symbols into SignWriting or DanceWriting or whatever.  I
could write in DGS or LSM or ASL and it wouldn't matter.  That is the
purpose of Unicode anyway.



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