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Peter, Thanks for the follow up. Some replies in text below... Quoting "Peter A. Rogers" <firstname.lastname@example.org>: > Thanks for your informative response, Don. I'll check out the Balancing Act > article. > > I'm just now starting to learn more about the whole unicode universe -- it's > fascinating, though the slow predictably slow uptake on African language > orthography is unfortunate. . . . When I wrote that piece I was just beginning to work with unicode. I had learned about the theory of it a while earlier before realizing that quite a bit was already being done. My ignorance on that count (which seems not to be so unusual among even language experts) "enabled" me to encounter the frustrations of dealing with non-intercompatible 8-bit fonts in Bamako in 1999. > . . . Interesting to note the role of orthographic > non-standardization amongst literate first-language users (thus less > "demand" for standard notation?) vs. the efforts of linguists/developers to > formalize "the hook" via unicode. Hence my question about everyday > communicative competence among the target audience regarding > marking/non-marking of these phonemes, esp. in non-local (Internet, foreign > translation, etc.) contexts. I'm not sure there is such a dichotomy between popular usage and expert prescriptions - the language ecology is of course more complex. "Literate first language users" are often not literate in their first language, since all their schooling took place in another language (the whole issue of "literacy" and what that really means for multilingual people/populations is an interesting one). Popular usage is therefore probably not a vote against the formal orthographies, but a reflection of education. The orthographies may be better understood by many rural neo-literates than urban elites. That said, the origins of the orthographies was to a great degree European linguists. However today, not a few linguists are either not that familiar with unicode or maintain a skepticism about it. Among software developers unicode is known by some but not others. Etc. An interesting apparent contrast I haven't explored is how extended orthographies for some Southern African languages (Xhosa, Zulu) fell into disuse (or were never well established?) while they were maintained in West Africa. > . . . But allowing standard practice > to default to [+'] or non-marking, in spite of clear technical capabilities, > seems like a cop-out, or worse. I'd have to say I'd agree with Andrew that it does seem worse than a cop out. > How does, say, Yoruba, with arguably greater international exposure and (?) > more frequently-occurring diacriticals, deal with this terrain? There have been some interesting discussions on Yoruba issues on the Yoruba language & ICT board (it, the Hausa one and others are accessible via http://www.quicktopic.com/ share?s=QSpo ). The dot-under letters and tone marks make for some complications when deciding on norms for composition. The choice by the designers of an online Yoruba dictionary not to use unicode, but rather design their own 8-bit font, may have been a way to sidestep this issue. Eventually some norms will have to be set for handling the language in unicode - not sure where that is now. ). The dot-under letters and tone marks make for some complications when deciding on norms for composition. The choice by the designers of an online Yoruba dictionary not to use unicode, but rather design their own 8-bit font, may have been a way to sidestep this issue. Eventually some norms will have to be set for handling the language in unicode - not sure where that is now. > I'd be interested to know if/how these issues get taken up at the recently > announced conference at BUK in December. Yes that will be interesting. Don Osborn Bisharat.net