Re: The Cent & Florin Signs VS. C-Slash & Left-Tailed F

From: Richard Gillam (
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 13:49:06 EST wrote:

> The proper cent sign is a raised-&-centered reduced size <c> with a (solid or
> broken) vertical cross stroke—it's the character that should be at 162
> [U00A2]! The c-slash pair (H-C & L-C) should move to positions 542 & 543
> [U02AE - U02AF], because it's a phonic symbol in the Americanist tradition
> for the affricate /ts/.

Wrong. A lowercase c with a slash through it is a 100% legitimate glyph for the
cent sign. If you specifically want the cent sign to look the way you describe,
it's your responsibility to select a font that draws it that way. Also, the
code charts in the Unicode book DO NOT specify glyph shapes; the Unicode
standard (generally) encodes character *semantics* and not character
*appearances*. The glyph in the book is merely an example to help people
understand the semantics. You can argue that it's an inappropriate example, but
I think most font designers and typographers would disagree with you. In any
event, it is quite clear that the semantics of this code point refer exclusively
to the currency symbol and not to the letter.

Unicode does not need to allocate a new code point for c-slash-- you can
represent that right now with U+0063 LATIN SMALL LETTER C followed by U+0338
COMBINING LONG SOLIDUS OVERLAY. Adding a new code point for c-slash would just
be adding a convenience to keep from having to use two code points for one
character. Traditionally, the Unicode people have only done this to maintain
backward compatibility with existing encoding standards. You could formally
propose adding this character, but since it's already expressible in Unicode, I
doubt you'd get that far.

> The florin sign is like a slanted integral symbol, only with a straight cross
> stroke across, & it is a currency sign, by the way!! So, let's move it to
> its more proper place in UniCode & WGL4—at position 8369 [U20B1], in the Curre
> ncy Signs subset. That'll leave position 402 [U0192] ready for the
> left-tailed f as used by the International African Institute for a bilabial
> /f/ fricative! Those corrections CAN STILL BE DONE!!!! WE ALL HAVE GOTTA
> LIVE TOGETHER—like the CBS-TV public service announcements say. Thank You!
> God Bless!

Well, right now U+0192 has both semantics-- you're supposed to use it both for
the florin symbol and f-hook. It looks like this might have been a false
unification, but I suspect that that will rest on whether these characters
always have identical appearances or whether their glyph shapes can be
different. If this is true, there may be some justification in adding a code
point to the Currency Symbols block that specifically means "florin sign."

The stated meaning of U+0192 right now is definitely "f-hook," with "florin
sign" as an alternate, so if they were disunified, U+0192 would continue to mean
f-hook. If disunifying these two meanings is really important to you, submit a
formal proposal. Bear in mind, however, that implementers will be slow to
implement the changes (i.e., many fonts will always give you the "florin sign"
glyph [assuming the "f-hook" glyph is different]).

F-hook should also be representable with U+0066 LATIN SMALL LETTER F followed by
(I'm guessing here) U+0321 COMBINING PALATALIZED HOOK BELOW. [If I'm wrong,
then that'd explain why f-hook is separately encoded and doesn't have a
canonical decomposition.] I wonder if you'd get a different glyph from the
florin sign with some fonts by using this combination instead of U+0192.

At any rate, to me the big argument in favor of adding a "florin sign" character
to the standard would be if the glyph shapes for these two characters aren't
always identical. Is that true, and if so, how do they differ?

--Rich Gillam
  Unicode Technology

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