Re: Greek Diacritics Again

From: Antoine Leca (
Date: Fri Nov 24 2000 - 05:00:47 EST

Lukas Pietsch wrote:
> there's another issue about Greek diacritics I'd like to ask the opinion of
> the people who are in the know: the question of (monotonic) Greek "TONOS"
> and (polytonic) Greek "OXIA" and their equivalence.

Please note I am not an expert here, but things appear clear enough to me
that I believe I can answer your questions.

As you might already know (but as some new readers may ignore), "tonos"
means accent in Greek, and "oxia" means acute. So-called monotonic
Greek have (obviously) only one accent, and this is the acute accent.
Oxia (tonos). U+0301.

Now, about U+030D (combining vertical line above), which happens to have a
note appended saying tonos, I believe this is slightly misleading, but
any reader that has doubt here will be directed in the correct way by looking
at the note appended to U+0301:
         = Greek oxia, tonos
(I am referring myself to NamesList-3.0.0.txt, available from
The book says very probably the same, but I did not check.
The same holds for U+0344.

Names are another things, since they are leagacy from the past and cannot
be changed; and here they may easily mislead.

> I seem to remember I read in some Unicode document that the Greek "TONOS"
> could be realized *either* as an acute *or* as a vertical stroke.

Anyway, Unicode does not require particular representations, it is just
a guideline here.

> On the other hand, the standard is of course quite unambiguous now about the
> fact that the two accents are equivalent in principle.

Again, there is no equivalence here. They are the same concept, known by
two different name. That is similar to Spanish. The Spanish accent can be
named as "accento" or "accento agudo". There is no need to create an
equivalence between "agudo" and "accento" in Spanish. The concept is always
the same.

> Would it be fair to sum up the consequences of all this for font design in
> the following way: If a font is designed for use with both monotonic and
> polytonic Greek, then the "tonos" glyphs should *definitely* look like
> acutes.

Sure (how can it be done otherwise?)

> If a font is designed for monotonic Greek only, a font designer can
> choose to use either acutes or verticals (or any other shape, for that
> matter: decorative typefaces in Greece are apparently using all sorts of
> things from wedges to dots or squares...)

Yes. But for quality, the acute form, the same as the one used above,
would be better.

> But can you think of any good reason for a font to have different (default)
> glyphs for the "tonos" and for the "oxia" characters side by side?

I can't understand this question.
If I translate to Spanish, it becomes:
| But can you think of any good reason for a font to have different (default)
| glyphs for the "accento" and for the "agudo" characters side by side?



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