# Klein-phi macht auch Mist

From: Markus Kuhn (Markus.Kuhn@cl.cam.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Aug 18 1999 - 11:40:47 EDT

There is another detail in the Unicode standard that troubles me, and
this is related to the example glyphs provided for

U+03C6 GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI
U+03D5 GREEK PHI SYMBOL

which can cause quite some confusion.

The intention seems to be that GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI is supposed
to be the normal Greek letter phi, while the GREEK PHI SYMBOL
is an alternative form frequently used in mathematical publishing
(see the TeX symbols \phi and \varphi).

What concerns me is that I have been told by Greek users that the glyph
shown in ISO 10646-1 and Unicode 2.0 for GREEK PHI SYMBOL is actually
the glyph that is used in the vast majority of Greek fonts for GREEK
SMALL LETTER PHI. Consequently, the contributor of the Greek glyphs for
our X11 fixed fonts decided to swap the glyphs for GREEK SMALL LETTER
PHI and GREEK PHI SYMBOL compared to how they are shown in the standard,
in order to stay in line with modern typographic practice in Greece.

I myself am using these Unicode fonts to edit TeX texts (where a
preprocessor converts UTF-8 into TeX macro sequences), therefore, I am
much concerned about the precise character/glyph relationship between
GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI and GREEK PHI SYMBOL. For mathematicians, the
TeX glyphs \phi and \varphi are widely considered to be distinct
symbols, and authors definitely want to have precise control over
which of the two glyph variants is selected.

So with the current example glyphs in the standard, I see an upcoming
conflict between Greek users and mathematicians: The former want to swap
the two glyphs, while the latter are more concerned about the glyph
variant than the abstract characters and what to use the standard to
have control over which glyph variant will be used.

Why did the standards use the apparently less frequently used phi glyph
shape for GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI and the normal form for GREEK PHI
SYMBOL? Are there any plans to swap these two glyphs in the next edition
of the standard? This seems to me the only solution out of this dilema.
How am I supposed to map U+03C6 and U+03D5 onto TeX's \phi and \varphi?

Markus

--
Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at acm.org,  WWW: <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/>


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