Re: Sample of german -burg abbreviature

From: Jörg Knappen (knappen@uni-mainz.de)
Date: Sat Oct 02 2004 - 12:46:42 CST

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Michael Everson schrieb:

> I assumed that the curly thing used over the letter u in German
> handwriting was a breve (not a combining u superimposed over a u),
> and so in these examples though the u is deleted, its breve is not.

I agree with Michael, that the thing is a breve -- however with an unusual
plaecement.

To me, there are three resolutions two the burg-abbreviature problem:

1) Add one new character, ZERO WIDTH INVISIBLE LETTER, to the UCS. Encode
the burg-abbreviature as
<b><zwil><comb. breve above><g>

2) Add one new character, COMBINING RIGHT SHIFTED BREVE ABOVE, to the UCS.
Encode the burg-abbreviature as
<b><comb. right shifted breve above><g>

3) Add two new characters, LATIN SMALL ABBREVIATURE BURG, and
LATIN CAPTITAL ABBREVIATUR BURG, to the UCS. Then, the
burg-abbreviature is one UNicode character.

[Note: The burg-abbreviature can occur in an all-caps context with the
breve placed in the middle between capital B and G.]

I strongly prefer solution 1 because it is fully general with a minimum of
effort added. It can also handle TeX's tie accent.

TeX's tie accent is an inverted right shifted breve above -- that's how it
is implemented in TeX and METAFONT by Donald Knuth. It has the width of a
normal accent, but the glyph hangs out of its bounding box such that it is
placed between two letters. The thing is used in some transliteration of
russian, where the letter <ya> is transcribed as \t{\ia}, i. e. an
inverted breve placed between a dotless i (\i) and a. A sample can be
found in Donald E. Knuth, the TeXbook.

Solution 2) is also a good one and it can be extended easily to the case
of TeX's tie accent by adding a second character, COMBINING RIGHT SHIFTED
INVERTED BREVE ABOVE, to the UCS.

Solution 3) is ad hoc and will probably open the door for dozens of other
candiates (like the tied ia).

--J"org Knappen

P.S. The thing in the burg-abbreviature is clearly *not* a raised u: a
raised small u has a right stem which I have never seen in the burg
abbreviature. The breve is a mnemonic hint to the u, since it was once
obligatory to mark all u's with a breve in german handwriting (Suetterlin)
-- and it is still wide spread practice.

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