tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jun 25 08:38:16 2009

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Re: Klingon orthography

Brent Kesler ( [KLI Member]

On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 2:02 AM, Michael Everson<> wrote:
> On 24 Jun 2009, at 21:47, Brent Kesler wrote:
>> To Mr. Everson, you obviously understand Unicode in great detail,
>> but as someone who's hacked out a lot of Perl, the Q/q problem seems
>> trivial.
> Not everybody works at the level of regular expressions. You may have
> control of this problem in some environments. But there are other
> environments outside of your control.

True, but not everyone has access to Unicode, either. Yes, it's
installed on most machines and if you prod your system a bit you can
get it to work. And Klingonists are a pretty tech-savvy crowd. But I
think both regular expressions or a new orthography would be enough of
a technological hurdle to turn people away. (Note, this argument does
not apply to reforms within the ASCII characters.)

> This is ***NOT*** all about Google, but here's a Google analogy. Used
> to be, you could search for long-s by itself. You could look for
> CongreÅs and get only those hits which had that character. But there's
> an equivalence (not case pairing) between Å and s, and that's
> somewhere in the Unicode data files. Google ended up implementing
> this, and so functionality which I had used became lost. That was out
> of my control, and happened because of equivalences.

(General gripe not related to Klingon: Yeah, I was disappointed when
Google made that choice. Searching for long-s was a good way of
narrowing the search to older documents. When you work with computers,
you need to be precise, but most users have the attitude that
precision doesn't matter as long as others understand what you mean.
So now we're designing computer systems to ignore precision and
"helpfully" guess what you mean. Which is annoying when you've made
the effort of being precise.)

> What I'd like to see is a system-level sort for Klingon so that the
> programmer doesn't have to do any jiggery-pokery to get it right.

That would be nice. But does any system-level sort put words starting
with {ng} after words starting with {n}? I know sorting digraphs is a
problem cross-linguistically, since most sorting algorithms are
written by English-speakers who do everything one letter at a time.

>> Really? pIqaD was rejected because there was "no substantial
>> information exchange in the script". I don't see how adopting
>> another orthography is going to fix that.
> Oh, believe me... the reason that was given was not the only reason.
> There's a lot of people out there who scorn and ridicule this whole
> venture. They don't do the same for Esperanto. It's prejudicial.

I don't doubt it. At the same time, I think "no substantial
information exchange" is a pretty legitimate argument. Taking the data
issues seriously might make us more respectable and remove some of the
scorn, but if we really wanted pIqaD in Unicode, I think we'd already
be making the effort to use it without Unicode support -- whether that
be in books or simply accepting that we're relegated to the backwaters
of PUA.

>> All the problems you raise would be major issues if our goal were
>> encoding a character set.
> But that's not the goal. [...] What I'm doing is attempting to
> raise some awareness about that and to explore possibilities for
> ensuring that problems which do or could arise from incompatibility
> don't or can't.

I see that, but so far the problems you mention seem major in theory,
but minor in practice. That's why I contrasted your goal (however
poorly I defined it) with "mastery of Klingon words and grammar and
actually using the language". Q/q is a legiitmate technological
concern, but it simply hasn't created any problems for me. Getting
pIqaD into Unicode isn't that important to me. The way I use computers
to search for the right Klingon word doesn't require proper sorting.
Right now my biggest problem with Klingon is remembering to use {lu-}
when a verb has a third person plural subject with a third person
singular object.

Now, if I were doing my own conlang with its own script and I wanted
to make sure it worked as seamlessly as possible with the available
technology (and every now and then I think about doing just that),
then I would definitely be concerned about all these issues. In fact,
I'm starring this thread on my gmail account just in case I decide to
tackle these issues. But again, that's a different goal.

>> We can study, read, and write just fine the
>> way it is. Yeah, there are some quirks we need to work around, but
>> we've already adapted.
> Reform is one way to avoid having to resort to workarounds.

But again, we've already adapted. I think spelling reform would be a
more elegant solution to those quirks, but I don't see that it would
make the day-to-day experience of using Klingon any simpler than the
solutions that we already have. It would definitely solve some other
problems that the current solutions don't, but those other problems
don't really matter to me, and it looks like they don't matter to most
other people here. Personally I like some of the reforms you've
suggested, but my cost-benefit analysis is in favor of the status quo.


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