Re: Greek Diacritics Again

From: Robert Wheelock (
Date: Mon Nov 27 2000 - 21:02:19 EST

>From: Antoine Leca <>
>To: "Unicode List" <>
>Subject: Re: Greek Diacritics Again
>Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 01:43:56 -0800 (GMT-0800)
>Lukas Pietsch wrote:
> >
> > there's another issue about Greek diacritics I'd like to ask the opinion
> > the people who are in the know: the question of (monotonic) Greek
> > 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
>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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
>| glyphs for the "accento" and for the "agudo" characters side by side?

Hello, UniCoders!
Unfortunately, chaos reigns in this certain matter. The proper forms for
both *acute* & *tonos* are these:
UC+0301 Acute Accent (right slant)
UC+030D Tonos (straight vertical apostrophe-like, J. Knappen's _universal
It recalls the (unfortunate) instance where the Greek negative particle ’OYX
(before words having initial vowels bearing a _rough_ breathing) would be
traditionally transliterated (by many) as _ouch_ (using the usual Biblical
rendition system, in Strong's...); whereas the breathings & accents usually
wind up ignored in that certain system, the resultant word looks _exactly_
like our pain/hurt-complaining expletive OUCH /aw(t)ch(hh)/. Agonistes
The Greek word ought to be rendered as 'oukh _or_ 'ukh, as it ends with a
velar fricative! It's the rough version of the word usually spelled 'ou/'u,
or sometimes as 'ouk/'uk (smooth version—before vowel-beginning words with a
smooth breathing); depending on whether you render the Greek OY
(omikron-ipsilon) diphthong us <u> or <ou>, that particle is spelled either
'u/'uk/'ukh _or_ 'ou/'ouk/'oukh. That word will be found in every Greek
Remember: Tonos is a straight apostrophe mark (like on a typewriter), Acute
has the mark right slanted (Touché!). Thank You!

Robert Lloyd Wheelock

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