From: Kenneth Whistler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 30 2002 - 18:27:11 EDT
> Marco Cimarosti scripsit:
> > The same should be true for the £ sign.
> > But unluckily, for some obscure reason, Unicode thinks that currencies
> > called "pound" should have one bar and be encoded with U+00A3, while
> > currencies called "lira" should have two bars and be encoded with U+20A4.
> "Every character has its own story."
> Can the old farts^W^Wtribal elders shed any light on this one?
The proximate cause of the inclusion of U+20A4 LIRA SIGN in
WG2 N708, 1991-06-14, Table of Replies (to the ballot on
10646 DIS, "DIS-1"). That document contains the U.S. comments
asking for all the additions which would synchronize the DIS
repertoire with the Unicode 1.0 repertoire, and that included
U+20A4 LIRA SIGN.
It is a deeper subject to figure out how the LIRA SIGN got into
Unicode 1.0 in the first place, and I don't have all the
relevant documents to hand to track it down. It was certainly
already in the April 1990 pre-publication draft of Unicode 1.0
which was widely circulated.
I do recall the issue of one-bar versus two-bar yen/yuan sign
being researched in detail and being explicitly decided.
I also recall explicit (and tedious) discussions about
the various dollar sign glyphs. I do not, however, recall
any time spent in discussing the analogous problem of glyph
alternates for the pound/lira sign, although it was probably
mentioned in passing. So it is possible that the lira sign
simply derives from a draft list that was standardized
without anyone ever spending time to debate the pound/lira
symbol unification first. It was probably in the same lists
that distinguished yen/yuan sign before it was determined
that distinguishing those two as a *character* was untenable.
Those were heady days. It is generally much easier to track
down why something was added post-Unicode 1.0 than it is
to figure out how something got into Unicode 1.0 in the
To quote from a particularly memorable email I sent around
on April 4, 1991 about an unrelated mistake that was almost
"The High Ogonek is symptomatic of one of the things
wrong about the character standardization business,
which encourages the blithe perpetuation of mistaken
'characters' from standard to standard, like code
viruses. At least, in the past, the epidemic was
constrained by the fact that the encoding bodies only
had 256 cells which could get infected by such
abominations as half-integral signs. Now, however,...
the number of cells available for infection is vast,
and the temptation to encode everybody else's junk
just seems to have become irresistible...
"...I don't think I would be telling any tales out of
school if I revealed that Unicode almost got a 'High
ogonek', too, since Unicode was busy incorporating
all the 10646 mistakes in Unicode while 10646 was busy
incorporating all the Unicode mistakes in 10646. ..."
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