ruby collation
Posted by: mysql
Date: June 23, 2005 01:05PM

Hello, I have a funky idea I'd like to throw at the MySQL gurus out there and see what they think in terms of feasibility.

For the past year I've been working in a Japanese environment, and something that astonished me is that there doesn't seem to be any good way to sort Japanese text. Because a kanji can have multiple readings, it can be sorted in different ways depending on how it's meant to be read. So various solutions are used, including:
1. use JIS code order which is sort-of-mostly-kinda-phonetic-but-not-exactly
2. use a dictionary to translate words to phonetic kana
3. store both a "display" and a "sort/search" field in the database

Being a student of Japanese, I make extensive use of furigana (a.k.a. ruby annotation) indicating the pronunciation above a given kanji. Now, since MySQL 4.1 supports unicode, and since unicode includes characters for ruby annotation... would it be possible to create a collation that makes use of ruby-annotated unicode text?

The 3 ruby annotation characters are:
<FFF9> INTERLINEAR ANNOTATION ANCHOR
<FFFA> INTERLINEAR ANNOTATION SEPARATOR
<FFFB> INTERLINEAR ANNOTATION TERMINATOR

By using those characters in a string, we can end up with all kind of interesting cases like:
"A" == "<FFF9>A<FFFA>capital a<FFFB>" == "capital a"
"人" == "<FFF9>人<FFFA>ひと<FFFB>" == "ひと"
"<FFF9>人<FFFA>ひと<FFFB>" =?= "<FFF9>人<FFFA>じん<FFFB>"

I think that the ability to arbitrarily define new equalities like that is incredibly cool. Of course I have no idea how a sorting algorithm would react to the fact that A=B and B=C but A<>C. Probably the best would be to use only the second part for sorting. Actually, I'm not even sure this is a matter of collation. Maybe it's something that can/should be implemented in the comparison/sorting algorithm.

So, does anyone think this is feasible? Does it even make sense? Am I crazy?

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