Re: 'lower case a' and 'script a' in unicode

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Fri Mar 25 2005 - 15:24:57 CST

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    From: "Donald Z. Osborn" <>
    > The kinds of issues discussed about the two characters and glyphs from the
    > point
    > of view of typography are certainly encountered on the ground among people
    > literate in the language and those instructing in it. The normal
    > handwritten
    > form of "a" is not two storey, and indeed it's hard to imagine keeping the
    > forms distinguishable in anything other than digital or printed form (with
    > the
    > appropriate fonts). References I'm aware of on this are older, and it's
    > possible that a later reference may simply be reporting earlier
    > references.

    It's true that handwritten Latin nearly never exhibits a two-storey glyph
    for lowercase a.
    But it's easy to imagine that the common one-storey "a" with a hook at the
    left on the baseline is used for the Latin a (drawn like a ligature of c and
    dotless i), and the common handwritten greek alpha (one-storey too, drawn
    more or like like the x starting from the top right and linking the two left
    branches...) will can be easily drawn by hand with the necessary

    So the two-storey form of latin a is certainly a typographic feature for
    roman typesetting in printed books and publications (a feature absent from
    the italic style which is more near from the handwritten script), but it is
    not the native "prefered" form for users, and even children at schools that
    learn to write the latin script...

    So it would be a good idea for typographers that make fonts exhibiting the
    one-storey form for latin a to make sure that it has a clear distinction
    with greek alpha. Then it can be very acceptable to share the same glyph for
    the true Greek small alpha, and the Latin small alpha, as they will be used
    in distinct languages where the distinction is not necessary...

    I still don't know if Fe'efe'e is effectively "commonly" written with Latin
    alpha, or if this form was just used by scholars trying to create an
    alphabet based on IPA to transcript the oral speech. May be that commnity
    would have prefered to use a standard lowercase a with a diacritic (a
    macron, or probably better a horizontal bar which is perceived in that
    region as a sign of African letter?) if the distinction is needed. But then
    it would be another orthograph, using a distinct abstract character.

    This is just a suggestion, not a proof of existence. But it's quite easy to
    conceive a barred "a" letter (or a double-barred 'A' in uppercase), or a
    letter with a diacritic (a macron above, an accent like circumflex, a dot or
    vertical line below) already used on other letters. I have the feeling that
    the effective usage of alpha is not attested among effective writers of the
    Fe'efe'e languages.

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