How to encode abbreviations [Was: Representative glyphs for combining kannada signs]

From: Antoine Leca (
Date: Tue Mar 28 2006 - 02:19:49 CST

  • Next message: Keutgen, Walter: "RE: How to encode abbreviations [Was: Representative glyphs for combining kannada signs]"

    Doug Ewell wrote:
    > Antoine Leca <Antoine10646 at leca dash marti dot org> wrote:
    >> Put it in clear: to write the French equivalent of Mrs, I can:
    >> - either write the slightly incorrect Mme
    >> - or write the more "correct" M[][] (where [] represent the empty box
    >> that everybody except four cats will effectively see).
    >> Somewhere I am thinking this is *not* a working solution.
    > So we avoid using rare and -- more importantly -- newly added
    > characters, preferring ASCII fallbacks of the sort Unicode was
    > intended to replace.

    While I agree with your pertinent remark on a general way, in THIS case I
    believe this is not adequate. Those two characters (U+1D50 and U+1D49, ᵐᵉ)
    do not seem to me to be intended for French abbreviations (or any written
    language typographics effects), but rather for phonetics. As a result, it
    seems difficult to me to ask French people to have phonetics-specialized
    fonts, in order to read something as common as the abbreviation for Mrs,
    just because it caught the attention of someone that those characters almost
    fit that particular needs.
    I can be wrong though.

    In fact, while I was too much ironical with my [] description, behind the
    scene there is a real problem about the use of those characters which have
    been added for some specialized purposes, but are reused.
    Of course the re-use of the characters for purposes which were not intended
    from the beginning, while it could be sometimes seen as incorrect or wrong
    by the standardization purists, is a very well known evolution for *every*
    character repertoire standardized to date, whether in the digital era or
    before (I mean, since men invent Writing.)

    However, sometimes the out-of-intent uses are less adequate; in general,
    those unfortunate uses are fading away quickly, probably since they do not
    get a catch; having interoperability problems just limit their uses, of
    In that way, your remark above is somewhat limited: all those new (sparkled)
    characters primarily come into use when they are readilly available for the
    purpose they are introduced first; it is only on a second stance, when the
    necessary infrastructure is in place, that they can be used for different,
    perhaps incorrect uses. One of my prefered is the French use of ° to mark
    the abbreviation of a final o (as in 1º, 2º), and the Spanish use of º to
    mark degree; both characters are in T.61 and derivates, including 8859-1; of
    course, it's the presence of the characters in the keyboard layouts which is
    the root; counter example, or examples of the reverse, are ASCII - and ',
    whose covers several meanings.


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