accented IJ

From: Martin Heijdra (
Date: Tue Apr 29 2003 - 09:50:14 EDT

  • Next message: Pim Blokland: "Re: Dutch IJ character"

    This message I referred to went astray (wrong list chosen). Part 1 has now
    been brought up by others as well; it's issue 2 which has not been
    considered. It's more of a font than encoding issue, but still, there is no
    adequate support anywhere yet...

    Comments from yet another Dutch speaker:

    1. Dutch typewriters usually do have an ij/IJ key, although my guess is most
    would use i+j and I+J anyway. Sorting, of course, usually treats ij/IJ as
    equivalent to (and therefore interspersed with) y/Y, but also that is not
    always the case. Reference works often state explicitly what they do with

    2. IF an ij/IJ is considered not just for backward compatibility, the issue
    of *accented ij* comes into play.

    Dutch rules of accent can be, perhaps, classified into three:

    1. those *required* for Dutch itself, such as the diaresis (pace Pim: if
    such accents are left out the word may sometimes remain "readable", but is
    spelled uncorrectly according to any possible spelling rule): zeegel etc.

    2. loanwords with accents from other countries, such as many French or
    German loanwords: French/German accents are usually maintained, much more
    frequently than in English, but not in all cases by every user. (Accents
    from other languages, say Swedish, are left out earlier, especially those
    usually unavailable on the typewriter.) Books and magazines will regularly
    maintain such accents, but there are occasions where they are left out
    (e.g., bad computer fonts/programs/keyboards...) Acutes, graves,
    circumflexes, cedillas, umlauts in German words can therefore be considered
    necessary also for Dutch.

    3. accents (grave and acute) on vowels for emphasis. This is never
    necessary, since their presence denotes emphasis only; yet, they are used
    quite often and normally in especially literary texts (but rarely, e.g., in
    book titles, or newspaper articles--any analysis based upon newspapers would
    severely underestimate this practice). The decision to use grave or acute
    usually depends on pronunciation of the vowel, but in some cases could be
    either. (n, ng, tch, wg). Since typewriters have the acute and grave,
    there was no problem to type this. Usage on capitals are rare indeed, but
    not at all impossible to imagine.

    Here the ij becomes an issue. Since it is considered a vowel, it used to be
    that both the i and j were accented with the acute, and a typewriter (and
    type) could do that. (zjn, with j-acute as well). However, both accented j
    and ij have not existed on computers for ages now, and the official spelling
    rules now explicitly say that, IF a word processor or other program cannot
    handle an accented j in the ij combination, it is OK to only accent the i,
    and that is what many books now do. (I would consider ij with grave accent
    not occurring, but who knows...)

    Since it is my firm contention that computers should follow original usage,
    not dictate it, I think it is time for fonts (if not necessarily encoding)
    to allow for j/J-acute, and, if ij is considered to be a perfectly good
    equivalent to i+j, also ij/IJ acute.

    Martin Heijdra

    Martin Heijdra
    Chinese Bibliographer
    East Asian Library and the Gest Collection
    Frist Campus Center, Room 317
    Princeton University
    33 Frist Campus Center
    Princeton, NJ 08544 USA

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