Re: Greek accentuation marks

From: Rick McGowan (
Date: Fri Oct 16 1998 - 15:59:56 EDT

Constantine Stathopoulos wrote:

> This issue concerns a fictional Greek accentuation mark in Unicode that
> is called "TONOS" and described as "a vertical line above", when in fact
> "TONOS" (a Greek word for "stress") is the generic name for OXIA, VARIA
> and PERISPOMENI in polytonic and OXIA in monotonic, and not a separate
> and distinct accentuation mark.

All of that is probably true, as you say. I don't have any specific
knowledge of Greek accents, so I'm prepared to believe that it is as you say.

However, there are some other considerations with regard to the *standard*.
This is not a matter of Unicode being stupid or ignorant of Greek.

The great mass of pre-composed Greek combinations in the standard were
requested *specifically* by ELOT. Unicode did not want them. They were all
requested and reviewed and approved by ELOT years ago, and the entire
standard was approved by ELOT. Perhaps you may be able to find the answer to
the question of why ELOT approved something that is false according to the
most basic high-school grammar books.

If the Unicode standard were not so closely aligned with 10646, there would
not be ANY of these precomposed glyphs for polytonic and monotonic Greek!
They are not necessary -- you can achieve the same result by dynamic
composition. ELOT wanted these things, just like other national bodies
wanted all of the hordes of Latin pre-composed characters. The 1990 draft of
Unicode, prior to merging with the repertoire of (then) DP10646, had *ONE*
Greek combining mark called TONOS -- which I suppose could be rendered as you
please -- and one mark called DIALYTIKA TONOS (like an umlaut with an
accent). The basic Unicode Greek set was originally derived from ELOT 928,
ECMA-118, and ISO-8859/7.

EVERYTHING in the extended Greek blocks -- all of those monotonic and
polytonic accented things -- came from ISO SC2/WG2, specifically originating
from ELOT. So why does ELOT apparently have such an incorrect understanding
of Greek?

If you wish to discuss any of this with the intention of proposing changes,
you should go back to the original standards documents from whence Unicode
derives, and to ISO 10646, and to ELOT. Maybe it's possible to clarify the
situation by adding text to the Unicode standard's Greek block introduction.
And maybe it's possible to change the glyphs that are printed, if they're
really incorrect. But to have any effect, there must be a paper that is
supported by facts and which has some endorsement.


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