Re: New symbol for Russian rouble?

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Fri Mar 17 2006 - 05:10:02 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: New symbol for Russian rouble?"

    On 3/17/2006 1:58 AM, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > On Fri, 17 Mar 2006, Michael Everson wrote:
    >> Indeed, why not just use CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER ER as they have done
    >> for generations?
    > I've seen several different abbreviations for the rouble in Russian,
    > including er followed by a period and er, u, be followed by a period
    > (transliterated as "rub."). Probably er, b, el ("rbl"), too.
    > Inventing new symbols for currencies does not sound like a good idea,
    > but it's understandable: people may hope (usually in vain) that a
    > single symbol unifies notations and that it gives some special
    > identity or prestige to a currency. After all, the euro got its symbol...
    > What we can say from a technical viewpoint is that the introduction of
    > any new currency symbol will surely not unify notations for a long
    > time. Even in presence of political will and support by common people,
    > it would take many years before computing systems widely support the
    > new character.
    > A replacement notation would still be needed, and many people would
    > use it even in contexts where the character is available. There is
    > still a rather mixed situation with the euro sign, for example.
    As was evidenced neatly by the Euro (which introduced a currency
    *symbol* for many countries that had up to that point used a currency
    *string*) there is a tendency to view such a symbol as a necessity for a
    modern, successful currency. The more currencies acquire such a symbol,
    the more the pressure grows on users of other currencies to do likewise,
    or their currency will feel somehow defective.

    As the association of currency and dedicated symbol is viewed as more
    standard, the question no longer is whether a currency needs a symbol,
    but what that symbol should be. As character coders we may be irked by
    the need to update our lists every so often, but I think this is one of
    the identifiable, and quite powerful, trends in the use of writing
    system for real-world purposes. It's an especially interesting one,
    since it apparently is not confined to a single script or even script group.

    I have no evidence as to whether the proposed symbols are in any way
    close to being adopted, but it would not surprise me if they were. It
    would surprize me much more if a currency were to abandon a
    well-established symbol (short of a currency reform which might require
    a quick ad-hoc designation to allow distinction between the old and the


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