Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:07:58 -0700
From: Asmus Freytag

Oblique hyphen vs. Double Hyphen

Prompted by the PRI on this issue I looked at Pentzlin's document  on the double hyphen (L2/10-162).
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There are two issues here.

One is that some people mistakenly, in my view, transcribed the double oblique hyphen from a Fraktur font into a double hyphen (or equal sign) using a modern font.

The problem is that people don't always understand the typographic rules of what they are looking at, and don't realize that doubling the hyphen in Fraktur is just a glyph variation. The correct transcription of the Druck=Kunst example in L2/10-162 is simply the standard hyphen character.

Muddling things up further by claiming that the new double oblique hyphen can have a horizontal rendering as well, just to accommodate such mistaken transcriptions is, mildly put, bizarre.

The other is the highly idiosyncratic writing and punctuation use of Arno Schmidt. Despite the fact that none of his works sold more than a few thousand copies, you could support the claim that his works are important enough to scholars to be transcribed faithfully, thus requiring some double hyphen character. (I'm not sure about Karl's reasoning on a need for a no-break version, that effect can always be done by following it with WORD-JOINER).

However, trying to implement this by claiming a glyph variation on DOUBLE OBLIQUE HYPHEN is highly problematic and best not considered.

There are three main reasons:

In conclusion, I strongly recommend against claiming such glyph variation. There is no documented evidence in the submission that would indicate that the same use of this character allows widespread alternation between forms. Instead, there is documentation that the orthography used by one (albeit important) writer uses the horizontal form, and that some people have picked up that usage. For this usage, an oblique variant would look decidedly odd, by the way.

I would be in favor of encoding a dedicated, non-oblique double hyphen to handle the need for accurate rendition of these works.