RE: Traditional dollar sign

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Sat Oct 25 2003 - 18:55:01 CST

At 11:02 AM 10/26/03 +1100, Simon Butcher wrote:

> > >I was taught at school that the double-bar form was used
> > when Australia
> > >switched to decimal currency in 1966, and that it was
> > incorrect to write
> > >the single-bar form when referring to Australian dollars.
> >
> > It would be interesting if you could document that.
>That could be tough :) Literature shown to me was at school (many years
>ago), and digging it up would be difficult. It's widely known that the
>double-bar form does exist, though, at least!

But we knew that.

> > >I guess the single-bar form had taken over due to the lack
> > of support from
> > >type-faces and computing devices, although it's still quite
> > common to see
> > >it in Australian publications, especially in large fonts (headlines,
> > >advertising, etc).
> >
> > It looks like actual practice is what you describe: the free
> > alternation
> > between the form without change in meaning.
> >
> > If we were to add a code point we would get into the
> > situation that the
> > free alternation would suddenly become a matter of content
> > difference (not
> > just a choice in presentation). In other cases where the
> > majority of users
> > freely alternate, but there is indication that some subset of
> > users need to
> > maintain a form distinction we have used standardized
> > variants. This has
> > been done mostly for mathematical symbols.
>I understand, although couldn't that same argument be used against many
>of the characters in the 'Dingbats' section, such as the ornamental
>variations of exclamation marks, quotation marks, and so forth? I do
>realise these come from an existing character set, but there are indeed
>still users of the double-bar form. Even my Concise Oxford Dictionary is
>printed using the double-bar form (under the term, 'dollar').

If their font uses that other shape, that's what they get. Only when the
distinction is required, (as demonstrated in actual use, not just what you
get taught in school) should we disunify.

>I just thought it extremely odd that a character which is still in
>common (albeit admittedly waning) use is not included in the set. Peter
>Kirk made a valid observation with regards to the Lira symbol (U+20A4)
>which Unicode admits often has U+00A3 (Pound sign) used in its place,
>with the only difference being a double-bar on U+20A4.

I've never seen a widely used font with both symbols in it. That alone suggests
that the unification is correct. For the case of the Lira, I plead ignorance on
the specific justification (and whether I would have considered it important).
The fact is that the source for it is buried in the early drafts of Unicode,
probably predating my involvement - so the only thing I can note is that
TUS 4.0
points out that 00A3 should be used (i.e. suggests a defacto unification in
recommended use).


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Jan 18 2007 - 15:54:24 CST