Re: RE: Character identities

From: John Hudson (
Date: Tue Oct 29 2002 - 17:17:34 EST

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    At 14:56 10/29/2002, wrote:

    >Is it complaint with Unicode to have a font where a-umlaut has a glyph of
    >a with e above? What about a glyph of a-macron (e.g. a handwriting font
    >for someone who writes a-umlaut that way)?

    Yes, I would say that it is compliant with Unicode because there is
    absolutely nothing in the Unicode Standard to say that it is non-compliant.
    I have seen German display types in which the umlaut is indicated by a
    miniature uppercase E *inside* the uppercase O. The point is that the small
    e is an accepted traditional German convention for indicating an umlaut,
    and any recognisable glyph variant of that convention fits the cognitive
    model for many competent readers reading German. The example of a
    handwriting font in which the umlaut is represented by something that looks
    like a macron, or a tilde, or a duckbilled platypus, should be judged by
    the same criteria: does the reader recognise the glyph as representing a
    vowel with umlaut? If so, it is a perfectly valid glyph representation of
    the umlaut character. It is, of course, a perfectly valid response to a
    typeface design to say 'I don't want to use this font because it has a
    weird umlaut', but it is equally valid for a typeface to have a weird
    umlaut; it may limit the popularity of the typeface, but so might the shape
    of the lowercase f or the curl of the tail of the Q, but would you say that
    these forms need to be a certain way to be valid or compliant? Although the
    line between glyph variants that are recognised by readers as valid
    representations of characters and those that are not is difficult to
    define, in practice readers are capable of making these decisions (and even
    of recognising, accepting or learning new forms that they have not
    encountered before): it is a bit like the distinction between pornography
    and erotica, which is hard to define but which magistrates and juries
    regularly decide on with confidence, competence and consensus.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    It is necessary that by all means and cunning,
    the cursed owners of books should be persuaded
    to make them available to us, either by argument
    or by force. - Michael Apostolis, 1467

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