John W. Cowan

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John Woldemar Cowan is an American programmer known for work with XML and Unicode. Cowan is an alumnus member of the Unicode Consortium[1] and was an editor of the XML 1.1 specification.[2] He is also the founder of the ConScript Unicode Registry, which is maintained by him and Michael Everson.

Cowan's father, Thomas A. Cowan, Ph.D, LL.B (U. Penn), S.J.D (Harvard)[3]:82 was a professor of law at Louisiana State University, later teaching philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and philosophy and law at Wayne State College and Rutgers.[3]:83

He is currently the chair of the working group defining the R7RS Large standard of the Scheme programming language.[4]

Cowan has revised William Strunk's The Elements of Style (now in the public domain). His revisions are "founded on the principle that rules of usage and style cannot be drawn out of thin air, nor constructed a priori according to logic; they must depend on the actual practice of those who are generally acknowledged to be good writers".[5]

Cowan is also the author of a comprehensive reference grammar of the constructed language Lojban.[6]


  1. ^ The Unicode Consortium: “The Unicode Consortium Members" (accessed 24 October 2013)
  2. ^ World Wide Web Consortium: "Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.1 (Second Edition)" (accessed 24 October 2013)
  3. ^ a b LSU Law: The Louisiana State University Law School from 1906 to 1977, W. Lee Hargrave, Louisiana State University Press, 2004
  4. ^ "Scheme Working Group 2" (accessed 24 October 2013)
  5. ^ William Strunk, Jr, and John Woldemar Cowan, The Elements of Style. On Cowan's website.
  6. ^ John Woldemar Cowan, The Complete Lojban Language. Logical Language Group, 1997, ISBN 0-9660283-0-9.

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