From: Thomas M. Widmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 17:44:06 EDT
> > >Yes, I think you're right that an annotation is best -- but only
> > >if EMPTY SET is indeed the right character. I'm increasingly of
> > >the opinion that a different character might be needed.
> > I would disagree.
> As would I.
Oh dear, if you both disagree with me, my chances of getting through
with this look slim indeed... :-)
But I'm wondering why.
I think we all agree on the following:
- Ø [LATIN CAPITAL LETTER O WITH STROKE] and ø [LATIN SMALL LETTER O
WITH STROKE] are both ruled out as their semantics is totally wrong.
- 0 [DIGIT ZERO] is also ruled out because it looks wrong in most
fonts (and one might argue that the semantics isn't exactly right,
- ∅ [EMPTY SET] is the best choice if a single character has to be
chosen from the current Unicode repertoire.
- But while ∅ [EMPTY SET] is normally just as wide as it is tall (it's
really just a circle with a stroke), the null symbol as used in
linguistics frequently looks more like 0 [DIGIT ZERO] with an added
stroke. (But many variations exist, including ∅ [EMPTY SET], ø
[LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH STROKE] and other symbols, most of which
can be explained by typesetters and word-processing programs that
didn't know what they're doing.)
- Furthermore, semantically an empty set is not really the same thing
as a null symbol. (They both represent 'nothing', but so does 0
[DIGIT ZERO] and possibly other Unicode characters as well.)
- However, 0 [DIGIT ZERO] + ̸ [COMBINING LONG SOLIDUS OVERLAY] --
which is close to how linguists used to type it in the old
typewriter days -- is also a bad idea since it would look bad in
If you agree with all of the above, I'm wondering what the argument is
against a new Unicode character, called NULL or NULL SYMBOL. Surely
if it looks different from any existing character and has a
well-defining meaning also not covered, there must be a good case for
-- Thomas Widmann, MA +44 141 419 9872 Glasgow, Scotland, EU email@example.com http://www.widmann.uklinux.net
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