Re: Umlaut and diaeresis

From: Marc Wilhelm Küster (
Date: Tue Jun 22 1999 - 09:51:24 EDT

Karl Pentzlin wrote:
> > ...
> > Most German library software (and software dedicated to fine
> typography)
> > have two encodings for umlaut and trema (e. g. in our product, TUSTEP, the
> > former is encoded ^a, ^o, ^u and the latter as %:a, %:o, %:u ...
> Do you encode the Albanian ë (which is neither an umlaut nor a trema)
> as ^e or as %:e ?
It is encoded as %:e (the umlaut exists only for a, o and u)

> > ... German
> > typesetters used to have two glyphs for the diaeresis and the umlaut which
> > were quite distinguishable ...
> If the DIN (institution for the German standards) people consider the need
> for a separate encoding for a second glyph to be important enough,
> it´s up to them to make a request to include a new diacritic
> (to be represented by such a glyph) into the Unicode standard.
> Apparently, they have not done it until now.
  That's true. We have repeatedly discussed this question in our (DIN)
mirror committee to SC2, but have finally decided against taking this
step for a number of reasons, amongst them:

  - problems during data entry: how to ensure that the correct diacritic
    is chosen in the correct context?
  - compatibility: are the letters WITH DIAERESIS the ones with Umlaut or
with trema? Of course, we would then need a "compatibility decomposition"
(to use the Unicode term) of a, o and u WITH DIAERESIS to a, o, u with
umlaut. This would be ideal for us, but offending for all non-German users
  - the problem only occurs in some well-defined areas

  This is not perfectly satisfactory and emotionally I would prefer a
different solution. Yet: often one has to choose the lesser evil, and my
rational self fully supports our DIN position. There are many ways to
alleviate the problem of, amongst others, ordering, some of which have been
enumerated by Alain.

So much for this.

        Best regards,

                Marc Kuester


*************************************************** Marc Wilhelm Kuester

Computing Centre of the University of Tuebingen Dept. Literary and Documentary Data Processing Waechterstr. 76 D-72074 Tuebingen

Tel.: +49 / 7071 / 29-70348 Fax: +49 / 7071 / 29-5912 EMail:

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