Re: Ancient Greek (symbols versus letters and duplicate letters)

From: Edward C. D. Hopkins (
Date: Thu Apr 10 2003 - 13:15:55 EDT

  • Next message: Chris Pratley: "RE: Variant Glyph Display"

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Kenneth Whistler" <>
    > The point Joop was making is that in *modern* Greek usage a
    > distinction is made, where the "lightning koppa" appears as a numeral
    > for numbering of legal clauses, or the like, but where the "lollipop
    > koppa" is the modern rendition of the archaic koppa (which, of course,
    > also had a numeric value). It is *this* distinction which led to
    > the separate encoding, not a failure to recognize that ultimately
    > all the koppas were, in some sense, the "same letter".

    OK, understand.

    > See the table for the Unicode Collation Algorithm, UTS #10.
    > It isn't an "established Unicode Greek sorting algorithm" per se,
    > but it does provide a default ordering for all Greek characters,
    > along with all other Unicode characters. Archaic koppa isn't
    > dealt with yet in that table, since it is a recent addition
    > to Unicode.

    Thanks for the pointer.

    > Note that the lunate sigma was encoded also for *modern* reasons.
    > It is distinguished in modern typography, as Joop indicates.
    > And while it can create problems for sorting and searching,
    > there already is such a problem in modern Greek (or modern
    > Greek representations of Classical or Ancient Greek) because
    > of the sigma and final sigma -- both of which are also just
    > the "same letter". This is *already* handled in the Unicode
    > Collation Algorithm by giving all three flavors of sigma the
    > same primary weights:
    > 03C3 ; [.0CA6.0020.0002.03C3] # GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA
    > 03F2 ; [.0CA6.0020.0004.03F2] # GREEK LUNATE SIGMA SYMBOL; QQK
    > 03C2 ; [.0CA6.0020.0019.03C2] # GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA; QQK
    > ^^^^ ^^^^
    > primary tertiary
    > The differences in the weights are at the tertiary level, which
    > results in same sorting together with same, and these letters
    > only being distinguished the way that capital versus small
    > letters are distinguished.
    > Your problem, as a Classical numismatics specialist, (and the
    > same applies in general to paleographers and papyriologists)
    > is that you confront many *more* glyphs for the various
    > characters than just the very few distinctions that got
    > encoded as distinct forms in the Unicode Standard for one
    > modern reason or another. The eventual result is not going
    > to be the encoding of each distinct glyph of each distinct
    > letter as another character in Unicode. Instead, as you
    > are doing, you need to lay out a subsidiary variant space
    > which you can map to specialized fonts, and associate all
    > of those variants with the Greek alphabet (in your case) or
    > whatever base set of characters might apply in other
    > paleographic traditions.

    Many thanks for the explanation. So by mapping the archaic forms of a Greek
    letter to the basic Unicode Greek codepoint, the sorting will be correct. I
    think I see how this works for Variation Selectors (which must be officially
    approved), but I don't see how it could work if using things I control, say,
    OpenType unmapped glyphs with <aalt> or <salt> entries. Can these be sorted?

    Chris Hopkins

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