Re: DIN 5007, Swiss Sorting

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 13:54:52 EST

Ar 10:27 -0800 2000-03-14, scríobh Alain:
>If the most important English dictionary sorts
>quasi homographs using other criteria, it demonstrates per se that there is
>no firm tradition about case sorting in English.

Alain, the Oxford English Dictionary is a HISTORICAL dictionary. If it
sorts quasi-homographs by historical principles this means that historical
criterion was more important to the editors of that dictionary than case
ordering was.

Your assumption that it means there is no "firm tradition" is unwarranted
by the facts.

>That said, as you say, the concise OED systematically sorts upper case
>before lowercase. Fine.

I said that Oxford editorial staff had informed me that this was Oxford's

>And Webster systematically sorts lower case before uppercase. Fine also.

I said that Webster editorial staff had informed me that this was Webster's
practice. Note that my informant suggested that he thought this was a
relatively new practice.

>These, from the outside, seem the most important sources of English
>dictionaries (one English, the other American). You can judge better than
>me, if it is totally wrong.

These two important houses choose to do different things.

>This, to us, demonstrates that there is no established tradition in English
>for case ordering.

No, it does NOT. It demonstrates that two important publishing houses have
made different choices, fairly recently in the scheme of things.

If you will have looked at N688, you will see that I have presented data
reviewing a great many dictionaries, and presented an analysis of that data
which suggests that there is a tradition of tendency though this is not
followed by everyone. It is not as though the choice was random; more
dictionaries were consistent than were not. Many of the ones which had both
practices did so because they were sorting by part of speech rather than
just by orthography.

Michael Everson ** Everson Gunn Teoranta **
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
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