Re: [OT] Re: Security Issues

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Fri Mar 25 2005 - 14:53:34 CST

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "Re: 'lower case a' and 'script a' in unicode"

    > ...
    > It is still true that the apostrophe has variable frequency across
    > languages and in English it is not very frequent and therefore its
    > suppression for « security » reasons is relatively unimportant. Here
    > is the frequency of apostrophe in a comparable text (the Gospel of John) :
    > German 0
    > Spanish 0
    > English 172
    > French 1020
    > Haitian Creole 1367
    > Italian 21
    > Danish 13
    > Latin 0
    > (Source : Jacques André, Unicode et la ponctuation, ATALA, Paris, 22
    > novembre 2003).

    You don't say which English version this figure relates to. If it is to
    the King James, we must realise that punctuation conventions have
    changed since 1611, and these changes have been only partially reflected
    in later printings. Here are some data for the gospel of John in modern
    English versions which I had available (counts may include headings,
    footnotes etc):

    English (CEV) 307
    English (New Living Translation) 279
    English (Good News Translation = TEV) 122
    English (Revised English Bible) 108
    English (NIV) 102
    English (New Jerusalem Bible) 55
    English (NRSV) 49
    English (RSV) 32

    The interesting thing here is the nearly ten-fold variation, which
    closely matches the spectrum of Bible translation styles, with the more
    formal and literal translations using few apostrophes and the more
    "dynamic" translations using many more. I would think that the more
    formal versions tend to avoid even the possessive suffix as somehow
    informal, whereas the two versions which have the largest number of
    apostrophes probably make considerable use of contractions. This
    illustrates how far the frequency of apostrophe in English depends on
    the register of language - and perhaps that deprecation of apostrophe is
    associated with a formalised idea of standard English. So please let's
    not export that deprecation to IDNs, which are intended to support
    languages in which the apostrophe is by no means deprecated.

    And here are some more data for some other languages - the interesting
    thing is the very different purposes for which the apostrophe is used in
    different languages:

    Russian Synodal 0
    Azerbaijani (marks hamza and ayin in loan words from Arabic) 72
    Greek New Testament (marks compulsory contractions) 148
    Modern Turkish (used between root of proper noun and suffix) 798
    French Common Language (marks compulsory contractions) 1227

    I also note a wide range of which Unicode characters are used for the
    apostrophe in the various languages, but that is an issue for those who
    coded the texts (for some of them, it is me).

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)
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