From: Otto Stolz (Otto.Stolz@uni-konstanz.de)
Date: Mon Apr 25 2005 - 07:48:08 CST
Hello Hans Aberg,
you have written:
> The Swedish language symbol ä (a with two dots above) is a separate
> letter, not to be viewed as an alteration of the letter a. So it is
> atomic. It is reasonable to enter it as a separate character. In German,
> however it is an umlaut, alteration of the letter a.
Not quite so: It has its own phonetic value (almost equal to its
Swedish sibling, IIRC), and is taugh as seperate character in schools
(believe me, I am German and interested in linguistic issues, and my
wife is a teacher at an elementary school).
The term "Umlaut" for a class of characters does not render these
umlauts as non-characters. There is a similar term, "Ablaut", e. g.
for the "a" and "o" in "barst" and "geborsten" (from "bersten") --
yet, this does not qualify "a" and "o" as non-characters, alterations
Admittedly, German "ä" collates with "a" in level 1, but so does "A"
in Swedisch. Still, German "ä" and Swedisch "A" are characters,
distinct from "a"; the difference is accounted for in higher
Admittedly, most crossword-puzzles treat "ä" as two letters "AE",
but that does not qualify "ä" as a non-character, in any other
respect. In the fifties, some crossword-puzzles used to treat "ch"
as a unit; still, nobody would ever have thaught of calling "ch"
a (single) letter.
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