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

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 03:21:07 +0100
Message-ID: <4994D913.7010901@malform.no>
To: Ambrose Li <ambrose.li@gmail.com>
CC: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, www-style@w3.org, www-international@w3.org

Ambrose Li 2009-02-12 19.57:
> 2009/2/12 Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>:
>> 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.
> The Chinese/Japanese systems (except the "suzhou numerals") clearly
> are still in common use, as is the Hebrew system.

Then of course it ought to be supported.

> IMHO I would say, where practicable, we should try to support the
> traditional systems also, because otherwise we would be contributing
> to their declining use. I'd say many traditional typographic
> conventions are disappearing precisely because they cannot be
> reproduced by computer.

I agree.

The thing is, though, that - at least for Cyrillic - the 
"traditional typographic conventions" is not only a matter of 
supporting old styles of using alphabets as numbers (upper-roman 
like). More new, but still /traditional/ (stonage, compared to the 
history of the Web) typographic conventons *also* exist. And both 
traditions -  the ancient as well as more modern 
typhographic/enumerational conventions - are suffering because of 
the same lack of support. And in my view it is more serious, that 
- in the case of Cyrillic - the most /common/ way of using the 
alphabets for enumeration isn't supported, than it is that the old 
Church slavonic greek like style isn't supported.

I have been told that the Georgian CSS list style is also one such 
ancient style not in current use. Thus, to me it could sound as if 
one has begun in the wrong end. But as I am no expert in whether 
Georgian or Armenian, I don't know.

Anyway, it is important to identify use cases. If for instance we 
want a list format with which we can enumerate the Table of 
contents of a phone book, then in e.g. the Russian case, we need 
the full alphabet [except two voiceless letters], since some 
forreign/new names needs to use some Russian letters as 
first-letter that traditional Russian names never would use as 
first letter. But if we want to support the academic list style, 
then that style has conventions for dropping some letters (because 
they look too similar to function well in lists, because they 
can't begin a word, because the letter is "new" - basically 
because of tradition). Here we have allready 2 use cases for 
Russian alphabetic lists, for the same language. And then in 
addition we have the Church slavonic system.

I don't know the CJK systems or the Hebrew system. But perhaps 
e.g. Hebrew too needs to be able to list things alhabetically?

I believe that support for the most common list format, in any 
language, can only serve promote that also uncommon formats are 
asked for.

The problem is - still - that we are used to computers that only 
know 0-9 and A-Z.
leif halvard silli
Received on Friday, 13 February 2009 02:21:55 UTC

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