RE: Character identities

From: Marc Wilhelm Küster (
Date: Fri Oct 25 2002 - 09:36:16 EDT

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    At 14:04 25.10.2002 +0200, Kent Karlsson wrote:
    >Font makers, please do not meddle with the authors intent
    >(as reflected in the text of the document!). Just as it
    >is inappropriate for font makers to use an ø glyph for ö
    >(they are "the same", just slightly different derivations
    >from "o^e"), it is just as inappropriate for font makers to
    >use a "o^e" glyph for ö (by default in a Unicode font). Though
    >in some sense the "same" they are still different enough for
    >authors to care, and it is up to the document author/editor
    >to decide, not the font maker.

    My wholehearted support!

    DIN asked for the combining letter small e as well as the other combining
    small letters specifically to cater for the requirements of scholars in a
    number of countries, notably Germany. In a large number of editions and
    scholarly dictionaries, both diacritics, the combining diaeresis and the
    combining letter e, are used on the very same page, even directly next to
    each other. The former is used for modern German words, the latter for
    medieval German words.

    The combining letter small e does not even necessarily stand for what today
    is the umlaut, it may have a number of different interpretations.

    For modern and medieval German words, the base font is in these cases the
    same -- editions are not normally printed in some sort of pseudo-archaic

    For this reason it is quite impermissible to render the combining letter
    small e as a diaeresis or, for that matter, the diaeresis as a combining
    letter small e (however, you see the latter version sometimes, very
    infrequently, in advertisement).

    As to the long s, it is not used for writing present-day German except in
    rare cases, notably in some scholarly editions and in the Fraktur script.
    Very few texts beyond the names of newspapers are nowadays produced in
    Fraktur. To put the long s on the German keyboard would be quite contrary
    to user requirements -- and if a requirement existed, it would be DIN's job
    to amend DIN 2137-2 and the upcoming DIN 2137-12 to cater for it.

    Best regards,


    Marc Wilhelm Küster
    Saphor GmbH

    Fronländer 22
    D-72072 Tübingen

    Tel.: (+49) / (0)7472 / 949 100
    Fax: (+49) / (0)7472 / 949 114

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