Re: Collating caps and smalls

From: Alain LaBont/e'/ (
Date: Sat Feb 08 1997 - 17:11:13 EST

At 03:36 97-02-08 -0800, Michael Everson wrote:
>only rationale I have ever heard for smalls-before-capitals was that "small
>letters occur more frequently and are therefore more general".

That is not the rationale we used in Canadian standard CAN/CSA Z243.4.1
We wanted to harmonize, if at all possible, French, English, German,
Italian, Portuguese and Dutch sorting (and as many languages as possible
without disturbing expectations much).

French does not care much for case (except that in encyclopedias, they tend
to do what you preach for English and what is certainly done in Danish,
although there are so many exceptions that there is no rule we can deduce,
and major French dictionaries only use capitals).

German (a language in which case is very important) does care and it sorts
small letters before capitals... for sure and that is written, stated and

English dictionaries that do *specify* a sort order, for case, sort (so far)
small letters before capitals. I still expect a dictionary in English that
specifically *states* the opposite. The Concise Oxford English dictionary
may well do the opposite but its grand brother, the Oxford English
dictionary (of which I have a complete edition at home --- 325 000 words)
follows no rule, in spite of the fact that they say it is computerized. And
Webster does like German.

That is our rationale, none else. A practical one, based on practice. And
like this we succeeded to harmonize sorting for 6 languages that we know of
(without excluding others - Spanish and Scandinavian languages *require*
slight adaptations, and that is *one* of the reasons why the ISO/IEC
standard has to be tailorable).

Now toggles will allow to change preferences. That is reasonable too.

We agree on this...

Alain LaBonti

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