[Cyrillic-vip] On U+02BC

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Fri Jul 8 15:03:41 UTC 2011


On Thu, Jul 07, 2011 at 09:07:49PM -0700, Alexey Mykhaylov wrote:
> 
> Considering the difference between use of apostrophe in English and
> Ukrainian which is essentially punctuation mark (in English)
> vs. letter (in Ukrainian), there might be, however, a stronger
> (compared to U+0027) non-technical argument for its use.

It is possible that there are such arguments, yes, although perhaps
the difference between "punctuation" and "letter" here is not quite as
clear-cut as you are suggesting.  Remember that many English words are
transliterations of Irish Gaelic, and therefore the apostrophe is
significant there.  (A similar argument can be made for the name of
the U.S. state Hawai'i, which is properly spelled Hawaiʻi; that
apostrophe-like mark you see there is actually right next to U+02BC in
the Unicode code space.)  Moreover, as I was pointing out, the
apostrophe is significant for meaning of words in English: can't and
cant are completely different words, and confusing them is a problem.
Never mind "experts' exchange" as compared to "expertsexchange".

More important, it is vital to remember that the DNS is not "in a
language".  There is absolutely no way to tell what the intended
script of a label is at the time of lookup.  For the purposes of
registration policy, of course, it is sometimes possible to tell what
linguistic context one is dealing with, and I suppose that within (for
instance) .ua it might be reasonable to presume you have users who
speak and write Ukranian, with Ukranian conventions.  The same,
however, will never be true of the root zone, and will also never be
true of gTLDs.  It is worth wondering, therefore, whether the possible
user confusion that could be engendered by allowing U+02BC in some
Ukranian-focussed zone would be worth the advantages.  This is, for
sure, a policy trade-off, but one that probably ought to be informed
by the conditions of the wider Internet.  Sometimes it is better to
give up a local advantage in the interests of wider interoperability.
(Consider, for instance, that AOL used to be so rich that they were
able to buy Time Warner.  Now they're an awkward appendage to the
Internet.)

> Would this
> be accurate to summarize that even though U+02B is not a part of
> Cyrillic Script Table it is a part of the Language Character
> Repertoire for Ukrainian language and it is a matter of registry
> policy to permit this code point for registration or not?

It is part of _a_ Language Character Repertoire, which might be
identified by some using an identifier that indicates it is related to
Ukranian.  The contents of the Language Character Repertoire are a
matter of registry policy.  It is technically possible (though it
would be regrettable) that two registries use the same identifier to
identify Language Character Repertoires that are different.  There is
nothing anyone can do about this, because what is and is not allowed
for registration is by definition a registry policy.

It is important to note that Language Character Repertoire
is purposely defined in a way that it is just a collection of code
points that are all identified by some arbitrary identifier.  The
mechanism by which those code points are collected is not defined
anywhere, because that is most assuredly registry policy.  There is
not one recognized authority in the world for identifying what code
points are associated with a given natural language (such as Ukranian
or English or Chinese).  And indeed, such matters change over time,
and are always controversial at the "edges".  So from a technical
point of view, all we need is a mechanism by which a policy can be
expressed.  It is up to the registry to make that policy.

If someone asked for my opinion about whether U+02BC should be
permitted by any registry's policy, my answer would be an unequivocal
"no", for reasons having to do with the stability, security, and
interoperability of the DNS and IDNA identifiers in that context.  But
I don't run all the registries in the world; and I will not be at all
surprised if people think my advice is bad, and allow that Code Point
anyway.

Best regards,

A

-- 
Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com


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