Re: Proposing a DOUBLE HYPHEN punctuation mark

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2007 - 15:34:57 CST

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    On 1/23/2007 4:06 AM, Jon Hanna wrote:
    > Asmus Freytag wrote:
    >>> If it's idiosyncratic the private use area should be put to use.
    >> His use of this may have been idiosyncratic originally, but the use
    >> of it in studies of his work is not.
    > A study of an idiosyncratic mark doesn't stop it being idiosyncratic,
    > and adoption of the mark does though.
    In the case of the double hyphen I'm coming around to the view that its
    used is specialized, not ideosyncratic. There is more than one
    convention for using the mark in this case, and I strongly suspect that
    they are others, as yet not reported here. I think our coding of the
    Katakana double hyphen was in some sense a mistake, as the question
    whether this is a character specific to the Katakana script probably
    wouldn't hold up in the context of additional research. (However, with
    as widespread a duplication of "wide" punctuation as we have in Unicode,
    it can be construed as being effectively the wide character clone of a
    generic double hyphen).
    > Two differening examples from the same author would be Tengwar, which
    > has been used by people outside of merely talking about Tolkien's use
    > of it, and Tolkien's monogram, which hasn't.
    I wouldn't make that distinction as absolutely as you are doing here. If
    there is a group of people needing to communicate texts that contain a
    character, it does not matter whether those texts are quotes or original
    writing. What matters is their requirements in creating and transmitting

    A more proper analogy here would seem to be the historic scripts, the
    use of which is limited to scholars preparing editions of ancient texts
    and their analysis.
    >> Add to that the suspicion, if you will, that if double hyphens show
    >> up in Schmidt, in Katakana contexts and possibly elsewhere, that
    >> there is something generic to the concept of doubling a hyphen to
    >> make a notational point.
    > Katakana isn't a good argument here, Schmidt wasn't writing Japanese.
    > If it's in Katakana it is surely a different character entirely.
    I disagree, as explained above. The double hyphen is not a traditional
    Japanese character, but a notation that's used by scholars, it's the
    (generic) idea of a double hyphen applied to annotate a particular
    feature. That does not make this character a Katakana character any more
    than it would make a question mark applied to a Katakana sentence a
    Katakana character. This was a clear case of a mis-analysis because we
    had a proposal that came in a particular context and we didn't have the
    full problem worked out.
    > If there is something generic to the doubling of a hyphen to make a
    > notational point then that generic quality will be demonstrable by
    > examples.
    > > Pushing people into
    >> substituting = because it's the only thing that looks close is just
    >> wrong.
    > Yes. But if it is idiosyncratic then having scholars use a character
    > from the PUA for Schmidt's idiosyncratic character is right.
    Using the PUA could be the right thing if your interest was to merely
    represent the appearance of a particular printed edition of a book as
    faithfully as possible, and in a *private* context, such as under the
    control of a single publisher.

    The minute you have vigorous scholarship quoting text passages at each
    other, any mark needed for that purpose is a lot less "private",
    irrespective of whether it was once used in one person's idiosyncratic
    (or as the wikipedia writes "willful" orthography).

    But my larger point is that I see Schmidt's use of this character as an
    idiosyncratic *use* of it, not as the invention of an idiosyncratic mark
    as such. In that view, the punctuation mark "double hyphen" exists
    independent of his usage, and over the years we keep seeing additional
    evidence for it.

    A convention to use double hyphen to distinguish between actual hyphens
    in a hyphenated word that happen to be at the line break from
    discretionary hyphens is something I seem to recall having seen in
    actual use, btw.


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