We can’t ignore the composition of the Unicode Consortium’s members, directors, and officers — the people who define the everyday writing systems of all languages across the globe.
It’s easy to look at all the Unicode characters that are already defined, especially if you don’t speak a particular language, and think that it’s already complete. But that’s precisely why it’s important to have people working on Unicode who do speak languages other than English and a few common European ones. This article in Model View Culture makes a lot of good points about how Unicode still doesn’t fully represent a global perspective. Here’s one of them:
Linguistically, East Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean have distinct writing systems. Some (but not all) of the characters trace their lineage back to a common set, but even these characters, known as Han characters, began to diverge and evolve independently over two thousand years ago.
The Unicode Consortium has launched a very controversial project known as Han Unification: an attempt to create a limited set of characters that will be shared by these so-called “CJK languages.” Instead of recognizing these languages as having their own writing systems that share some common ancestry, the Han unification process views them as mere variations on some “true” form.
To help English readers understand the absurdity of this premise, consider that the Latin alphabet (used by English) and the Cyrillic alphabet (used by Russian) are both derived from Greek. No native English speaker would ever think to try “Greco Unification” and consolidate the English, Russian, German, Swedish, Greek, and other European languages’ alphabets into a single alphabet. Even though many of the letters look similar to Latin characters used in English, nobody would try to use them interchangeably. ҭЋаt ωoulδ βε σutragєѳuѕ.
(Read the rest.)