Use of the Florin symbol not as a currency symbol; polysemous character use (was: Re: U+0191, U+0192 [F with hook])

From: Karl Pentzlin (
Date: Thu Sep 30 1999 - 17:37:44 EDT

I (Karl Pentzlin) wrote (regarding the "florin" sign, to be used as "folder"
symbols in Mac filenames):
> If a remapping is due anyway, in my opinion a misuse of a character of a
> group with specific purpose (currency symbol, in this case) for a
> different purpose should not be introduced in advance, without any
> compelling reason.

John Cowan wrote:
> You might as well argue that it is a "misuse" of SOLIDUS,
> to use it in
> Unix pathnames, and that a separate UNIX PATHNAME SEPARATOR character
> should be introduced, with appropriate mappings.
> Polysemous characters are a fact of life.

Of course.
The "ASCII" characters (range U+0020 ... U+007E) have a long history of
multiple use, due to the fact that they were the only commonly available
characters on many computer systems for a long time.
My argument was simply: Maybe it is not the optimal solution to *introduce*
such polysemous use for new characters without compelling reason. Now, we
*have* enough characters to avoid that.

Peter Constable wrote:
> Michael E wrote:
> >3. Disunify. Add FLORIN SIGN to the currency symbol block and
> remap Mac and PC characters to it instead of U+0192.
> Option 3 sounds like it would be costly to some companies that
> are probably not that easy to move, and it sounds like it would
> also impact a large number of users.

This may be done without large costs, as far as the "folder" symbol is
concerned. [Remark: I am not a Mac user and have not seen the florin symbol
as folder symbol myself.] Maybe in the description of a future Mac OS
version you will find something like: Use the character U+xxxx as folder
symbol; for compatibility reasons you may also use the hooked f (U+0192), as
long as you do not disable this use explicitely because you want to use the
hooked f within filenames. Thus a smooth transition can be made. The
selection of another folder symbol is in the domain of the Mac manufacturers
anyway, they are free to choose any Unicode character considered appropriate
by themselves (maybe not a "f"-like one as the words for "folder" do not
start with "f" in all languages).

Karl Pentzlin
AC&S Analysis Consulting & Software GmbH
Ganghoferstraße 128
D-81373 München, Germany

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