[rfc-i] open issues: character encoding of names

Bjoern Hoehrmann derhoermi at gmx.net
Thu May 31 12:46:44 PDT 2012

* Andrew Sullivan wrote:
>In response to the RSE's suggestion that individual topics marked as
>not having consensus get discussion, I thought I'd pick a few and
>respond to them in independent threads.

(Thank you.)

>The argument against it is, apparently, that people who don't speak
>the language of the author won't be able to read the author's name.
>Therefore, a transliteration of the author's name into English is
>required.  This is appropriate, it is argued, because the language of
>the IETF is English.

I would put it differently, if you do not know the alphabet a name is
based on, are unaware which name is first and which the last name, or
if the name does not fit into that scheme altogether, if you do not
know social conventions around using the names, dealing with titles,
ranks, and honorifics, how people react if you refer to them by their
first versus last name, can't tell whether you are referring to some-
one female or male, can't actually type the name on your keyboard, it
is very easy to make mistakes. Reading as such does not seem to be a
big problem, considering that there are many tools for this, and con-
sidering that they do not work very well. The transliteration I use
certainly does not result in people pronouncing my name properly.

>Each of these has some merit, but it seems to me that there is no
>justification for not providing both facilities, since there is
>certainly no technical impediment.  Therefore, in my view, it is
>desirable to provide this facility, and to do so with a transliterated
>English form of the name (and address and other contact data) as
>required.  The latter extends to fallback mail addresses for cases
>where the EAI extensions are not available, and to A-label forms of DNS
>names for those who cannot use the U-label form.  

I don't think, as far as names are concerned, a "transliteration" is
what we should ask authors to provide, but some name that avoids the
problems I listed above, as much as possible. If someone whose name
does not fit easily into some transliteration scheme, or who dislikes
the transliteration, goes as "Leet Haxor" or whatever, that's pretty
much fine with me. For protocol elements like domain names we have
technical standards where the issues above do not apply. So with that
caveat, I agree.
Björn Höhrmann · mailto:bjoern at hoehrmann.de · http://bjoern.hoehrmann.de
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