Re: U+0023

From: Jukka K. Korpela (jkorpela@cs.tut.fi)
Date: Tue Mar 29 2005 - 04:26:13 CST

  • Next message: George W Gerrity: "Re: U+0023"

    On Tue, 29 Mar 2005, Arcane Jill wrote:

    > Aha - I always wondered why I sometimes see hash refered to as "pound
    > sign". I had previously assumed it had something to do with the "old
    > days" (I can remember them) when we only had seven-bit encodings.

    That's actually true, too, so we can make ourselves confused two ways.
    The position 0x23 was actually assigned to the pound sterling sign, too.
    I don't know whether this has something to do with the use of "#" to
    denote the pound as a unit of weight (mass). (Of course the two uses
    of "pound" are historically connected; the currency unit originally
    corresponded to one pound [lb] of silver, or something.)

    There are different wordings in different versions of ASCII and
    ISO/IEC 646, as well as ECMA-6 (which is equivalent to ISO/IEC 646 and
    freely available at http://www.ecma-international.org/ ). But
    basically the idea was that 0x23 could be used for '#' and ''
    upon mutual agreement, possibly with one or the other set as
    the default depending on environment. This was of course risky play,
    though I don't think it caused much disaster, since in a sense
    it just made 0x23 an ambiguous character that has two essentially
    different shapes and uses. What's more problematic is that on some
    devices, you might see '' without being able to know whether the
    character is encoded as 0x23 or as 0xa3.

    > In England, I can remember
    > using a computer in which 0x23 encoded U+00A3 (the real POUND SIGN), and
    > certainly it is the case even now that SHIFT+3 gets you '#' on an American
    > keyboard, but '' on a British keyboard.

    And, for example, a Finnish keyboard has both of the characters engraved
    into the '3' key, so that SHIFT+3 produces '#' and AltGr+3 (or
    SHIFT+ALT+3) produces '' (as 0xa3).

    -- 
    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    


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