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Re: New FAQ: Script direction and languages

From: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003 12:59:43 -0400
Message-ID: <3F634CFF.E9C6CBAC@i18nguy.com>
To: Jungshik Shin <jshin@i18nl10n.com>
Cc: www-international@w3.org


Hi. Thanks for the comments and detail. I know "ideographic" is a little dicey
and actually, I think I had a review comment to the same effect. However, the
page is not written for linguistic experts and I wanted to include terms that
lay people might use to search for information on writing direction for those

As most books on internationalization use the term, I thought it might be an
important keyword for searching.

Ah well, I guess I can make the page correct and people will still find it
somehow... ;-)

I'll wait for more comments to come in and then update it.

Jungshik Shin wrote:
> On Fri, 12 Sep 2003, Richard Ishida wrote:
> > The latest FAQ published by the GEO task force is:
> >
> >       What directions are commonly localized languages written in?
> >
> > Find it at: http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-scripts.html
>   Thank you for the nice work, Tex.  Here's a little glitch I've
> just spotted.
> FAQ> Ideographic languages (e.g. Japanese, Korean, Chinese) are more
>      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> FAQ> flexible in their writing direction. They are generally written
>   This is my pet peeve. You're one of the last people I expected to
> use the term, but I might have been wrong.  ;-).
>   Just like languages don't have a 'direction' (script(s) or writing
> system does(do)  as you wrote in your FAQ), a language is not ideographic
> but a script can be.  As you know well, linguistically Japanese
> (agglutinating) and Korean (agglutinating) [1] on the one hand and
> Chinese(isolating) on the other hand are a lot farther from each
> other than most other pairs are.  Therefore, ideographic or
> otherwise, it's all but impossible to come up with a single adjective
> to describe three of them together.
>   Of course,  their writting systems share a script (Hanzi, Kanji,
> Hanja) that is often characterized as 'ideographic'.  Even this
> characterization is not strictly correct because 'ideographic' is
> only one of six ways (not so productive) by which Hanzi/Kanji/Hanja
> were/have been made up/created/used. More importantly, as is well known,
> Japanese writing system uses two more scripts (both syllabic) while
> Korean writing system uses Korean script (featural/alphabetic/syllabic [2])
> so that their writing systems are not ideographic, either.
>   Given all these, I suggest that the above sentence be revised
> to read :
>     Writing systems for Chinese, Japanese and Korean  are more
>     flexible in their writing direction. They are generally written
>  BTW, RTL (horizontal) is sometimes used for Chinese and Korean
> (and perhaps Japanese as well) for a short run of text such as
> several-character-long maxims (usually taken from classical
> Chinese).
>  Jungshik
> [1] The relation between Korean and Japanese is rather murky. Both
> languages are kinda 'orphan languages' although some linguists
> in the early 20th century thought that Korean belongs to Altaic
> language family.
> [2] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unicode/message/9183

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex@XenCraft.com
Xen Master                          http://www.i18nGuy.com
XenCraft		            http://www.XenCraft.com
Making e-Business Work Around the World
Received on Saturday, 13 September 2003 13:00:09 UTC

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