Re: Capitalization (Was: 03F3 j Greek Letter yot)

From: D. Starner (
Date: Thu Feb 17 2005 - 16:49:23 CST

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    "Hans Aberg" writes:

    > Now mix capitalization in the bag: In natural languages, capitalization
    > typically does not alter the semantics of the word.

    That's not invariable; there are rare cases where capitalization alter
    semantics. For example, Poles and poles are two different things. More
    importantly, capitalization alters the meaning of the sentence and paragraph.

    > However,
    > capitalization can be used to communicate certain semantic information:
    > Start of sentence, proper noun, (in German) noun, abbreviation, etc. If one
    > sticks to the semantic approach, then one should add abstract characters
    > "start of sentence", "proper noun", etc., zip out say the uppercase letters,
    > and let the rendering machine make a correct presentation.

    But that's not the complete list. There is a practically unlimited variety
    of things that capital letters have been used for; any such list of characters
    would be insufficent. Do you put the "noun" character before all nouns, just
    in case we want to render this in a early modern English font that capitalizes
    all nouns? What about pH? To try and handle capitaliztion like this may be
    suitable for an English professor marking something up in TEI-Lite, but it's
    shear madness for a character encoding standard. For all extents and purposes,
    treating capital letters and small letters as different is the only sane way
    to go, and I know of no character set that has done otherwise (and presumed
    to support both.)

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