Re: Euro

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue Oct 21 1997 - 16:05:22 EDT

On 10/21/97 10:47 AM, ( wrote:

>. . .
>>The position of the Unicode Consortium is that U+20A0 is inappropriate to
>>use for the Euro (i.e., it has a different meaning). It isn't a glyph
>>issue; we consider them two different symbols.
>. . .
>>>Question: does position 20A0 for the ECU or EURO ?
>>Neither. It's for "an undefined, future pan-European currency." When
>>the Euro comes into existence, it won't be "undefined," and it won't be
>>"future," hence U+20A0 isn't appropriate to use for it.
>. . .
>I understand that the Consortium has made this decision,
>and I have no intention to fight it, but am I the only one
>who feels lost reading this logic? It sounds like 20A0
>was intended as a place-holder for a pan-European currency.
>Now the Euro has been defined as a pan-European currency.

No. U+20A0 was *never* intended as a place-holder for a pan-European
currency. Loose though I may have been in my description of the facts, I
was careful not to call U+20A0 a placeholder.

The original meaning of U+20A0 was to be a target for mapping a
particular character found in the Xerox corporate character set. When
the matter came up for discussion at the most recent UTC, it became clear
that it had no other meaning, and (even worse) the intended meaning of
the original Xerox character was rather muddy.

As near as could be determined, the purpose was apparently to be a way of
referring to an undefined pan-European currency.

The difference between this and a place-holder is roughly analogous to
the difference between an unknown and a constant in algebra. If I give
you a way of solving ax + b = 0, a and b are constants -- place-holders
for as yet undefined values. x is an unknown. The symbol has a
different function and meaning in the equation.

Since its meaning had never been properly pinned down in the first place,
it was felt improper to pin it down now and risk changing the meaning of
the character out from under anybody who might actually be using it.

(It's rather like an undocumented feature of an operating system or
program. If word of it leaks out and people start using it, you can't
easily make it go away.)

>It seems strange to reserve something undefined for future
>use, but then not use it because the now-present, defined
>item isn't "undefined" or "future" anymore. How could you
>ever use this slot?

In practice, its use will be deprecated.

>The argument that the ECU and Euro are different currencies
>seems more compelling.

Yes, but it wasn't clear that the character was ever intended to be *the*
symbol for the Ecu. Its meaning was never properly settled in the first

John H. Jenkins

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