Re: ogonek vs. retroflex hook

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Fri Apr 04 2003 - 15:25:02 EST

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    Peter continued:

    > Ken Whistler wrote on 04/02/2003 03:54:10 PM:
    > > > That isn't the only convention. I am finding several samples of
    > typographic
    > > > retroflex hook being used to indicate nasalisation of vowels.
    > >
    > > Jim Allan is right. It is the *ogonek* which is used to signify
    > > the nasalization of vowels. If you have found things that
    > > as "samples of typographic retroflex hook" being used this
    > > way, you just have confused font designers creating bad
    > > glyphs, IMO.
    > By far the most commonly used typographic convention in Internation Journal
    > of American Linguistics (from the past decade, at any rate) to indicate
    > nasalisation of vowels is the "retroflex hook". (There are some articles in
    > which combining tilde is used, and I have seen a couple of cases of
    > cedilla, the latter in quotations from other sources.) They are very
    > clearly the retroflex hook and not ogonek.

    This last is a fallacious statement on its face.

    What is correct is that the IJAL-preferred font face is
    using glyphs for a-ogonek, ash-ogonek, open-o-ogonek, and such,
    with right hooks at their bottom which look more like the
    representative glyph in the Unicode Standard for a retroflex hook
    than the representative glyph in the Unicode Standard for an ogonek
    That fact does *not* make them retroflex hooks. And in fact if
    you query the various authors and editors involved in representation
    of Athabaskan, Iroquoian, Siouan, and other American Indian language
    families with widespread appearance of nasalized vowels, you will
    find that they *universally* think that they are using vowels
    with ogoneks to represent nasalization.

    Why you would feel that such user sense of the characters they
    are using is belied by your analysis of the shape of the hooks
    used in the IJAL font is beyond me.

    I have already indicated that the hooks under characters have had
    notorious variation in their forms. And the ogonek is the worst
    offender in this regard. Such variability in form is not an
    excuse to misidentify a diacritic as something that it is not.

    The are two widespread conventions in Americanist orthographies
    for nasalization: ogonek (or "Polish hook") under vowels (or semivowels) and
    tilde over vowels (or semivowels). The use of the ogonek dates
    back to recommendations made by Franz Boas in 1916. In the 19th and early 20th
    century, there was another widespread convention: use of a superscript
    n following the vowel.

    Use of retroflex hooks to indicate nasalization is *NOT* an
    Americanist convention.

    > I can't comment on the historical development of this practice and whether
    > it might have arisen from confusion with ogonek. I think the library on our
    > center has IJAL from its inception (nearly 70 years), so I could jump back
    > a decade or two or three to see what I can find out. In the mean time, how
    > is U. of Chicago Press to migrate their publishing of IJAL to use Unicode?

    Very simply. They use vowels with ogoneks to represent vowels with

    > Either they encode a bunch of base-ogonek characters (most of which would
    > still need to be proposed) and use fonts that maintain "poor typographic
    > practice" of having ogoneks that look like retroflex hooks, or they need to
    > revise their typographic practice and switch to using typeforms with real
    > ogoneks.

    No, they map vowel+ogonek (whether as a precomposed form or as
    a vowel + combining ogonek sequence, which would be canonically
    equivalent, in any case, for instances such as U+0105, U+012F,
    U+0173, U+01EB) to their preferred glyphs in the font face
    they prefer.

    This is exactly the same issue as for anyone who has an issue,
    where, for whatever reason, they have preferences for particular

    > The former has obvious concerns, but the latter doesn't remove all
    > concerns -- the legacy practice continues to haunt.

    Why?? This is so straightforward that I find it astounding that
    it troubles you.

    > As I have looked
    > through various sources, it has been apparent to me that
    > authors/editors/publishers often endeavour to maintain original typography
    > in quotations.

    Maintenance of "original typography" requires special fonts. What
    is so difficult about that? If I want to quote something from
    Dorsey's 19th century Siouan materials, and I want it to *look*
    like Dorsey, then I will need to make use of some specialized
    old-style font with whatever quirks were present in the type
    the 19th century typographer who set the books in the first place

    > So, with a bunch of base-ogonek characters encoded, it will
    > be unclear to them how to represent quotations from IJAL.

    I don't see this as a problem at all.

    > So far, the majority of cases of vowel symbols with retroflex hook that
                                                     with ogoneks whose glyphs
                                                     look more like retroflex
    > I've encountered have been in IJAL, but there have been others.
    > I'm not saying I think this is something to be advocated; I'm just trying
    > to determine what characters are needed to support actual usage.

    None other that what we have already encoded.


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