The Yoruba under-diacritic

From: James Fox (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2005 - 11:01:00 CST

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    You probably know how Yoruba uses a mark below certain vowels, as well as
    the letter s, to represent certain phonetic distinctions. There seems to be
    a variety of shapes for this symbol: a dot below, a short vertical line
    below, the same as before, only attached to the letter above it, a teardrop
    below, and even (so I've read), a small Greek cross below.

    I've read on this list and elsewhere, that there is no real preference
    between these shapes. However, since there are different Unicode characters
    for at least the combining dot below and the combining short vertical line
    below, there is a lot of confusion over what to use. I believe that it has
    even been said earlier on this list, that until a particular diacritic is
    picked, a proper representation of Yoruba in computers will be stymied.

    However, after thinking about it, I think there could be an alternative.
    There is an analogous situation in Greek, where a particular diacritic (the
    perispomeni) can be shown as a tilde, an inverted breve, or a macron,
    depending on the style. All of these already have their own codepoints, but
    the perispomeni has its own position, U0342. This avoids having to change
    codepoints every time you change the typeface, and treats a single logical
    character as such, rather than a set of 3 different characters.

    Perhaps something like this could be done for the Yoruba under-mark? After
    all, the different forms used are apparently merely a matter of style, but
    Unicode disunifies them. Would it be possible to pick, say, U0329, as the
    Yoruba under-mark *exclusively*, and note that it has possible alternative
    glyphs in the code charts? Or, if that would conflict with possible
    alternate uses for U0329, could a new combing diacritic be encoded just for

    Does anyone have any comments?

    James Fox

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