Glyphs and graphemes [was Re: Cult-like behaviour]

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Mon Jul 16 14:55:46 EDT 2018

On Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:22:27 -0400, Richard Damon wrote:

> But I am not talking about those sort of characters or ligatures, 

So what? I am.

You don't get to say "only non-standard definitions I approve of count".

There is the industry standard definition of what it means to be a fixed- 
or variable-width encoding, which we can all agree on, or we can have a 
free-for-all where I reject your non-standard meaning and you reject mine 
and nobody can understand anything that anyone else says.

You (generic "you", not necessarily you personally) don't get to demand 
that I must accept your redefinition, while simultaneously refusing to 
return the favour. If you try, I will simply dismiss what you say as 
nonsense on stilts: you (still generic you) clearly don't know what 
variable-width means and are trying to shift the terms of the debate by 
redefining terms so that black means white and white means purple.

> but
> ‘characters’ that are built up of a combining diacritical marks (like
> accents) and a base character. Unicode define many code points for the
> more common of these, but many others do not.

I am aware how Unicode works, and it doesn't change a thing.

Fixed/variable width is NOT defined in terms of "characters", but if it 
were, ASCII would be variable width too. Limiting the definition to only 
diacritics is just a feeble attempt to wiggle out of the logical 
consequences of your (generic your) position.

There is nothing special about diacritics such that we ought to treat 
some combinations like "Ch" (two code points = one character) as "fixed 
width" while others like "â" (two code points = one character) as 
"variable width".

To do so is just special pleading. And the thing about special pleading 
is that we're not obliged to accept it. Plead as much as you like, the 
answer is still no.

Steven D'Aprano
"Ever since I learned about confirmation bias, I've been seeing
it everywhere." -- Jon Ronson

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