Re: Character missing from SECS & VSECS

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Aug 18 1998 - 14:20:29 EDT

Ar 16:34 +0100 1998-08-18, scríobh Markus Kuhn:

>I deliberately left the long s out, because it is very clearly an
>archaic character that is used today in Germany exclusively in
>decorative Fraktur fonts and certainly not in common German writing.
>Most Germans would not even recognize a long s in a normal non-Fraktur
>font. (For the record: I am German with a quite good background in
>German typographic conventions.)

It is also found in Macintosh and Windows character sets for the Gaelic
variant of the Latin script (along with R WITH LONG LEG and LONG S WITH DOT
ABOVE). The three of these do not appear in ISO/IEC 8859-14 because there
wasn't space.

>This is a good opportunity to make the purpose of the the simple subsets
>versus the large typographic subsets clearer.
>Please note that VSECS and SECS are designed for a broad range of
>non-typographical applications. They are NOT primarily intended for
> - the publishing industry and word processing
> - linguistic and literary research
> - archival and processing of historic text

How long ago is historic, Markus? Does 1958 count? You have to contend with
the Gaelic script. Does 1981 count? You have to contend with polytonic

>A Fraktur font covering the VSECS and SECS collections would be a rather
>strange product. I would not even know what a COPYRIGHT SIGN, a YEN
>correctly look like in a German decorative Gothic font.

You can see a Fraktur ETH on page 301 of Íslensk orðabók (Reykjavík: Mál og
menning, 1992, ISBN 9979-3-0444-8).

>Special decorative scripts such as German Fraktur are best kept out of
>the scope of the Multilingual European Subset standard entirely!

Not, of course, of the MES-3.

>The common subsets are first of all needed to ensure interoperability
>and predictability in applications where the sender knows nothing about
>the font used by the receiver. Email is a good example.

One can send e-mail using Gaelic script orthography for Irish.

>VSECS and SECS are designed to include only the essential minimal set of
>frequently required characters of all European languages.

As long as they are texts written after 1982, right?

>I think we should apply the same criteria applied to the long s when we
>discuss whether other controversial characters such as some of the
>8859-14 characters for old Irish and Welsh-dictionary usage or the Greek
>polytonic characters are appropriate for a simple character set for
>non-typographic applications.

Irish and Welsh characters are not controversial. These characters are
required by the users of these languages.

>I am fairly sure that the polytonics should be kept out of the simple
>non-typographic sets. I am not yet really sure about the 8859-14

I am. Marion Gunn is. The National Standards Authority of Ireland is.

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta **
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Guthán: +353 1 478-2597 ** Facsa: +353 1 478-2597 (by arrangement)
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn;  Baile an Bhóthair;  Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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