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

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Fri Oct 01 1999 - 06:32:41 EDT

Ar 14:41 -0700 1999-09-30, scríobh Karl Pentzlin:

>> 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.

Typewriters too.

>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.

The problem is not that the characters in question are *both* polysemous
and polymorphous. You don't have that situation with SOLIDUS &c.

The unification seems to cause more trouble than a disunification would.

>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).

I don't suggest encoding a unique "folder symbol" character.

The "folder symbol" is the character at 0xC4 used as a spacesaver. Instead
of titling a directory "Unicode Folder" English-speaking Mac users often
write "Unicode Ÿ" (might Danish speakers use "Unicode µ" for
"Unicodemappe"?). Apple maps this to U+0192, LATIN SMALL LETTER F WITH HOOK.

If FLORIN SIGN were added, Apple (for instance) would have to make a
decision as to whether 0xC4 were still to map to U+0192 or to the new
character. Most fonts draw the character with its italic florin shape, so
they might want to remap it to the new FLORIN SIGN (which would make U+0192
more useful to Ewe speakers).

English-speaking end-users who care about such things could then make a
decision as to whether FLORIN SIGN or LATIN SMALL LETTER F WITH HOOK were
the appropriate abbreviation for "folder".

One cost inherent to the disunification could be in searching for
directories using the symbol, but as a long-time Mac user I can say that I
have never done so.

Michael Everson * Everson Gunn Teoranta *
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Guthán: +353 1 478 2597 ** Facsa: +353 1 478 2597 (by arrangement)
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn;  Baile an Bhóthair;  Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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