Qalam-2003-05-13a

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From: "Don Osborn" <dzo@xxxxxx>
To: unicode @ unicode . org Cc: qalam @ yahoogroups . com
Subject: Sources for characters in ISO 6438
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 23:26:02 +0200

Does anyone have any leads to sources of information on how the ISO 6438 "African coded character set for bibliographic information interchange" was developed? A 1979 DIN document (without explanatory text), "Coded Character Set for African Languages" (http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/ISO-IR/039.pdf),* which evidently is a forerunner to ISO 6438 (a 1998 version of which is at http://anubis.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/open/02n3129.pdf)* differs in several ways from usage illustrated in the "African Reference Alphabet" (http://www.bisharat.net/Documents/Niamey78annex.htm) published after the 1978 Niamey "meeting of experts on the transcription & harmonization of African languages," which raises the question.

Understanding that both were attempts in the late 1970s to summarize character needs that were and to some degree still are evolving, and that each had different strengths, I am still curious to know more about how the DIN document was researched. Partly I am wondering if this is an early example where linguists (primary participants in the UNESCO-sponsored conferences like the one in Niamey) and computer experts (involved in the setting of the ISO standards) in or working for Africa weren't communicating much. Mainly though, I'm interested to know more about who used what sources to put together what became the ISO 6438 standard for African characters, that was in turn eventually incorporated into ISO 10646 / Unicode. It may be worthwhile to post this information (if it is not already) as part of broader information sharing re African language orthographies and Unicode.

Thanks in advance for any info...

Don Osborn
Bisharat.net

* Thanks to Eric Rasmussen for these references


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