Re: symbols for nexus

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Sun Mar 16 2008 - 11:03:35 CST

  • Next message: Murray Sargent: "RE: symbols for nexus"

    The problem with arbitrarily wide embellishments on text is how to
    define scope. The mathematical horizontal brackets are used as
    characters, but within a system that uses other mechanisms to assign
    scope. Therefore, the character only encodes the type of the
    embellishment to be used, not its beginning or end.

    That's a methodology that has been used by the Unicode Standard for (at
    least) two distinct notational systems: mathematical notation and
    musical notation.

    Applying this to ordinary text, however, is problematic, since the layer
    that defines a notational convention is missing in the usual
    implementations for ordinary text. Coding a bracketing pair of
    characters, with the understanding that the text between these
    characters is to be embellished would allow someone to express the
    desired semantic, but introduces non-local scope into plain text,
    something that should be avoided if at all possible. All text handling
    software might be in a situation where it is exposed to the requirement
    to keep track of that kind of scope, or else, ruin the desired effect.
    And, of course, at least some implementations would have to support this
    convention, or else the users would never see the intended text decoration.

    Generically, such over and underlining schemes would seem to belong into
    extensions to CSS or similar standards. To mimic the traditional
    flexibility of TeX and LaTeX in these areas, CSS could adopt a
    convention whereby one could specify a (horizontal) bracket character
    (or an accent) to designate the desired effect, as is done for mathematics.

    CSS (and HTML) would take care of the scope, and Unicode's role could be
    limited to furnish any required building blocks, that is character codes
    for any required additional shapes used in making such text decorations.


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