Re: Umlaut and diaeresis

From: Lars Henrik Mathiesen (
Date: Tue Jun 22 1999 - 14:21:48 EDT

> From: John Cowan <>
> Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 08:52:46 -0700 (PDT)

> And rightly so. Sorting, after all, is done for the benefit
> of the user of the sorted content. It benefits me nothing
> (supposing I know no Danish) to have Danish names in "aa"
> sorted somewhere after Z; I want them sorted at the beginning
> of the As. A Danish person would have the opposite expectation.

A nave Danish person will probably expect words with the sound /a/ to
sort with the <a>s, and with the sound // to sort last with the <>s.
But I think I said that already.

On the other hand, a nave Danish person will probably be surprised to
learn how difficult it can be to guess whether <aa> in a given name is
to be pronounced /a/ or //. And a non-native who had to use a Danish
phone book wouldn't stand a chance.

So the choice is between easy lookup by pronunciation vs. easy lookup
by spelling --- and either way there will always be cases where the
user may have to look in two places. But since pronunciation isn't
always available to the compiler of a list of names, the mechanical
'aa = ' rule may be best after all in that case.

It's still a problem that most people aren't aware of the rule (and
don't even realize the problem) but that can't be solved on this list.

Lars Mathiesen (U of Copenhagen CS Dep) <> (Humour NOT marked)

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