Re: Sample of german -burg abbreviature

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Thu Sep 30 2004 - 22:00:53 CST

At 06:04 PM 9/30/2004, Michael Everson wrote:
> see no reason given for us not to unify the handwritten symbol we have
> seen with BREVE ABOVE. In the environment described, apparently bg is
> taken as an abbreviation for berg, and bg (with breve) is being used as
> an abbreviation for burg. The breve is the same as was used in German to
> differentiate u from n.
>The thing in those examples shown as a curly thing between the b and the g
>should be encoded as a brever over the b.
>That's my opinion, anyway.

The map sample may have been hand lettered, however, there's no evidence
that suggests that the usage is limited to handwriting. On the contrary, we
have heard from at least one contributor that the symbol exists in a font
used by a Landesvermessungsamt, which is a German geographical service on
the state level, and in the context definitely a proper authority on usage.

Functionally, the symbol is not a breve. Visually, the sample does not look
like a standard breve, and the font resource cited matches the style of the
sample according to the contributor who cited it, implying that there well
may be a particular conventional shape to this symbol. Finally, the mark is
not placed above the 'b'. To me these facts imply that on all three counts
a unification with the ordinary combining breve is definitely inappropriate.

There are two items that are possibly subject to question.

One is the putative derivation of the symbol from a superscript 'u'. I
think it's quite possible that that is correct, even though the possibility
that it's based on the distinguishing mark used to discriminate between 'u'
and 'n' seems possible and believable. I'm ready to concede that Otto might
know more about this than Michael or myself, but I would be most satisfied
if we could get either a citation or input from another expert. I'm sure
we're not the first set of people interested in the derivation of this.

The other is the question of whether a unification with the double breve
(i.e. a breve that spans two characters) can and should be considered. The
existing double breve would be placed between the b and g as required.
However, there are three issues that would need to be resolved: Whether
there's a strong functional identity to the double breve that would make
unification unattractive, whether the conventional glyph shape cited from
map sample and font resource is an essential enough aspect of the character
to make unification unattractive, and finally, whether the fact that the
double breve is intended to fully extend over both characters, rather than
being a shorter mark inteded to sit between wouldn't make unification

Rather than exchanging more opinions on this matter, it would bring us
forward if the people who discovered the mark could collect all the
evidence together with any useful arguments that surfaced in the e-mail
discussion and put it into a formal character proposal. That would allow
UTC and WG2 to settle the open issues I mentioned based on the best
available evidence - which is how we proceed with all proposed characters.


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