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Re: Armenian numbering: findings, recommendations and request to CSS WG

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 15:16:39 +0100
Message-ID: <49942F47.1050806@malform.no>
To: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
CC: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, 'fantasai' <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, www-style@w3.org, www-international@w3.org

Daniel Glazman 2009-02-12 14.07:
> Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> 
>> In short, a photo of a modern Armenian Bible is a bad proof for the 
>> unrelevance of the Armenian enumeration system as that enumeration is 
>> a modern day phenomena accross most versions of modern Bible editions. 
>> [1][2][3]
> 
> This is not a proof but an example. The fact, and I do care only about
> facts here, is the take of a professionnal translator for french courts
> and the european commission that has a degree in armenian litterature
> from Erevan university, sees dozens of armenian documents (official or
> not) per day, and has studied the history of the language and its
> writing system. Is that enough ?

Sure, that is enough. If only we get to a point where we agree 
what we are talking about. :-) I can only say that the issue of 
list numberings is not the most studieds subject in this world, 
unfortuately. I am not certain whether it belongs to math or 
linguistics or both - or perhaps we should rather discuss it under 
the header "typhography".

 From what I have been finding out about about Russian and 
Cyrillic lists (in Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian, Serbian), it 
does indeed seem as if Roman numbering has been used quite much, 
even before the Soviet era. So when your source told that Roman 
numbers were much used in Armenian, then it sounds familiar. 
However, for Cyrillic and the mentioned languages, also 
alphabetical list numbering have been used - *of different sorts*. 
And in addition to that, we also have Church-Slavonic numbering, 
which is similar to Roman numbering, and which is only used in 
ancient or liturgic text books and similar. (Somewhat more use in 
the post-USSR era.)

I think we can, generally speaking, claim that it is a fact that 
in most areas of the world, the ancient alphabetic number systems 
- such as the Armenian one that we currently discuss, and the 
Church-Slavonic one, and also the Georgian list-style-type(!) - 
are not very much used. With one single exception: The Roman 
system, and perhaps Greek. So, in a priority list, I would give 
support for such number systems low priority. In this I agree with 
you and your source.

Wheras I would give much higher priority to modern alphabetic 
enumaration.

However, from reading your previous two messages, it sounded as if 
you think that simply Roman and Arabic is enough. So I am not sure 
you would agree to give alphabetic enumeration any priority.

> About the names, yes, you are right, some names could be better
> designed. But some have more than ten years of existence now and
> we can redo history.
> 
> There are also issues with intuitiveness. At first glance,
> "upper-latin-no" seems to me pure non-sense. Latin numbers
> are i, ii, iii, iv, ...; "no" seems to me the negation of "yes"

You saying so is pure non-sense. 'no' is a language tag, and it is 
not anything strange with it at all, to Norwegians - or to anyone 
familar with the language tag. As anyone using HTML should be.

Or do you go to no.wikipedia.org in order to find no wikipedia?

Typical that I had to subscribe to a www-international to hear 
such non-sense.

> and not "norwegian". And "latin" and "norwegian" is a bit strange
> for numbering in the same ident. In that case "upper-norwegian"
> is a fairly good compromise, easily understandable at first glance
> by anyone.

Is it? Where is the compromise?

Intuitivity you say. It is is straight out un-intuitive to think 
of "Norwegian lists" as "Norwegian.  It is just as uninituitive as 
it is for English to think of A-Z as "upper-English". 
"Upper-Alpha" is far more intuitive. And it has the same kind of 
intuitivity for use say "upper-alpha-norwegian".

Who will be using "upper-alpha-no" most?  To refer to what you say 
below: French humans? Or Norwegian humans?

Another issue: What will happen if I use "upper-Norwegian" and the 
UA doesn't support it? What will it default to then?

The best thing would have been if I could just say

<ol lang="no" style="list-style-type:upper-alpha">

and then be certain that, since I used the "no" language tag, that 
I would also get a Norwegian list style type. Then 
"upper-alpha-no" or even "upper-Norwegian" could be used for 
/overrideing/, e.g. like this:

<ol lang="ru" style="list-style-type:upper-Norwegian">

> Purity of design does not always lead to the most human-readable
> result, 

Generally speaking about everything in general: Of course, you are 
right. Oversystematic systems can become human un-readable.

But at least sofar, I have not heard any credible or factual 
arguments from you about where the shortcoming of the system I 
proposed (as a starting point) were.

> and I remind you that our users, web designers, are humans.
> Anyway, we're not going to change that now, that's too late in the
> process.

Why is this too late in the process? Are there *any* 
implementations of "upper-norwegian"? Howe many numbering systems 
are that that do not have /any/ implementation? And, when it comes 
to the current implementation of Georgian and Armenian, you 
yourself have pointed to the problems with them.

So the time seems to be right. Of course, as long as one *wants* 
to extend CSS with support for more lists. Simplification, for 
users, authors, designers. Who else than those did you think I had 
in mind with what I said?
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Thursday, 12 February 2009 14:17:25 GMT

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