German ligatures (was: logos, symbols, and ligatures)

From: Michael Maxwell (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2007 - 13:54:41 CST

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: logos, symbols, and ligatures"

    I hate to jump into this mess, but here goes (notice also the change in subject line):

    Philippe Verday wrote:
    > In fact, the rule that determines if syllable break are
    > disallowed is based on radicals, not on syllables...

    I'm going to assume that what Philippe meant was that whether one is allowed to break a word across lines is based on "radicals"; syllable boundaries are a matter of speech, not writing systems, and in many cases are disputable anyway (both their position and their linguistic reality).

    Otto Stolz wrote:
    > True. (I prefer to call those radicals "constituents".)

    As a linguist, I'm not sure I understand either term--'radical' or 'constituent'--in this context. Perhaps the terms (or their cognates) mean different things in French and German, but in English linguistics the term 'radical' refers to part of a Chinese character, or one of the consonants in a Semitic root. Neither usage seems likely here. And a linguistic 'constituent' can be at any level--phonemes are constituents of words, as are syllables and morphemes and lots of other things.

    My *guess* as to what people are saying about German is that a word can be broken (hyphenated?) across lines (and perhaps more relevantly to this discussion of ligatures, will not be undergo ligature formation) at morpheme boundaries. And perhaps only at certain morpheme boundaries: my guess is at boundaries between compounds (noun-noun compounds, and maybe adjective-noun compounds), but also at the boundary between a separable particle and the following verb. The boundary between a lexeme (noun, verb, adjective...) and a following inflectional suffix (case marker, verb inflection, etc.; German does not have inflectional prefixes) is not a candidate for breaking (and maybe does not block ligature formation).

    That said, this is again wandering rather far from Unicode, it seems to me...

       Mike Maxwell
       CASL/ U Md

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