Re: Re: Greek Prosgegrammeni

From: Lukas Pietsch (pietsch@mail.uni-freiburg.de)
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 03:28:00 EST


Thanks to Nick Nicholas for providing the excellent reference to the paper
by Yannis Haralambous, at http://genepi.louis-jean.com/omega/boston99.pdf .
I stand corrected as for the supposed incorrectness of diacritic mute iotas
with capitals. However, I am still puzzled about how to interpret the
unicode norm in the light of Yannis' information.

If I understand correctly now, there have been at least three different
typographic traditions in the rendering of mute iota in titlecase, and up to
five in uppercase:

Titlecase:
(a) small diacritic subscript glyph centered under the base letter,
identical to lowercase iota subscript, as in the earlier Unicode charts.
(b) small diacritic glyph placed near the lower right corner of the base
letter, as in the Unicode 3.0 charts
(c) full-size lowercase iota glyph (according to Yannis, the most common
option, and apparently the only one familiar to many readers outside Greece)

Uppercase:
(a') centered subscript, as in (a)
(b') small diacritic adscript, as in (b)
(c') full-size lowercase iota glyph, as in (c)
(d) small-caps iota glyph
(e) full-size uppercase iota glyph (an option not mentioned by Yannis, but
clearly implied by Unicode's uppercasing rules. Also, this is the one option
familiar to me from German grammars of Greek.)

The question is, which of these glyphs are considered to be valid
realizations of the "letter with prosgegrammeni" code points in Unicode?

As for titlecase, Nick seems to think that all three options should be
regarded as valid typeface variants of the same codepoints, and I guess this
agrees with what Yannis implies. However, if the Unicode charts were
"corrected" to show form (b) instead of form (a) as of version 3.0, as John
Jenkins informs us, this seems to imply that form (a) was no longer
considered a valid representation? Or conversely, if we do consider (a) to
be a valid representation of these codepoints, then the codepoints should
not be *called * "prosgegrammeni", should they?

As for uppercase, the Unicode specification clearly rules out that the
precomposed "prosgegrammeni" codepoints should be used at all, even though
three of the five known typographical variants are identical in both
uppercase and titlecase (a', b', c'). All "prosgegrammeni" and
"ypogegrammeni" codepoints have uppercase mappings to capital iota. Form (e)
is thus the only option formally recognized by Unicode, while options (a')
through (d) are not catered for at all.

It seems to me now that this treatment is both a bit inconsistent and overly
restrictive (in so far as it excludes a', b', c' and d), while at the same
time leading to unneccessary complications in the statement of casing rules.
Given the wide range of typographic variation, wouldn't it be much easier if
we just called these codepoints "capital letter ... with mute iota", using
them for both titlecase and uppercase alike, and leaving it to font
designers to choose the realization type they prefer, and to handle any
positional variants between titlecase and uppercase through OpenType
features and the like?

Until support for systems such as OpenType becomes more widely available,
the bottom line is that I wouldn't advise users to employ the precomposed
characters anyway. Many users have probably never even dreamt of having
computing features such as automatic case conversion or case-insensitive
string comparison work for polytonic Greek; after what they have gone
through in the past they will be quite happy if they can get a line of Greek
text printed correctly on paper, and will be overjoyed if one day they can
paste it into an email. As long as people don't rely on automatic casing
features, it is quite safe for them to encode mute iotas in any number of
ways, using the spacing "prosgegrammeni", "ypogegrammeni", or "iota"
characters to get just the glyph shape they want. It may not be the ideal
Unicode way, though...

Lukas Pietsch
Ferdinand-Kopf-Str. 11
D-79117 Freiburg
Tel. 0761-696 37 23

Universitšt Freiburg
Englisches Seminar



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