Re: Uppercase ß is coming? (U+1E9E)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 12:28:25 CST

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: Uppercase ß is coming? (U+1E9E)"

    Andrew West wrote:

    > Have you read the proposal ? The character is being proposed in order
    > to represent examples of usage in existing texts -- whether you like
    > it or not some people have used an uppercase form of the letter, and
    > there is a need to represent texts which use this uppercase form.

    I have read the proposal, and I do not find the proposed character necessary to represent
    the examples of usage in existing texts as illustrated in the proposal. The document
    states that the uppercase eszett is proposed as a single character not a ligature. Why?
    Presumably because the nature of the German orthography prevents the uppercase eszett from
    being a ligature of the sequence <S S> because <S S> is not always semantically equivalent
    to <S S>. But the uppercase eszett could very easily be a ligature of <S ZWJ S> and indeed
    this is exactly the mechanism that Unicode specifies for requesting a glyph-level special
    display of two characters as a single glyph.

    The illustrations in the proposal all seem to have been produced using typesetting
    technologies, or handwriting, in which the relationship between the forms used and their
    meaning exists only in the mind of the typesetter or writer, i.e. these are not products
    of computer text processing in which characters have properties and relationships that are
    'known' to the typesetting system. In these cases, it is useful to imagine the typesetter
    at work on a piece of copy, and his actions if he finds that the copy calls for a
    character that he does not have in his tray of type. I have little doubt that in the mind
    of the typesetter of those old examples, and in the minds of the authors and editors who
    specified the uppercase eszett, that this sign was equivalent to the letter sequence SS
    and that the uppercase eszett was a variant form to be used in certain words according to
    the distinction made between double-s and sharp-s. The test of this is simply to give a
    typesetter a piece of copy specifying the uppercase eszett and watch him substitute SS
    when he finds that his font does not contain the former. This substitution is automatic if
    the desire for the special form is encoded as <S ZWJ S>, and survives font switching
    between fonts that do and do not support the special form. This seems to me a worthwhile goal.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Gulf Islands, BC
    We say our understanding measures how things are,
    and likewise our perception, since that is how we
    find our way around, but in fact these do not measure.
    They are measured.   -- Aristotle, Metaphysics

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