From: Philippe Verdy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 27 2008 - 11:17:33 CST
Michael Everson wrote:
> But the EURO-CURRENCY SIGN is a different problem entirely.
Yes, certainly, the proposed ECU sign was not the one adopted, and it was
used by almost nobody. Hence the new encoding for the symbol that was
finally adopted and widely used, given that the ECU was never found in any
customer pocket and not used for daily transactions, but only in financial
areas for electronic transactions or in contracts, where no symbol was even
needed or wished (the ISO symbol "XEU" was largely preferable).
On the opposite, the Ruble is widely used by hundreds of millions people,
and it's unavoidable that people want to abbreviate it and that shops will
want a small and clear symbols for displaying their prices, and this need
persists even if the symbol is not displayed officially on notes and coins.
Even in countries that have adopted signs, the symbol is, most often, not
used on coins and notes, and not used in electronic transactions, contracts
and checks: the currency is just named or abbreviated with their
international ISO symbols (three ASCII letters only).
The need for a clear symbol is when the ASCII letters do not fit the daily
usage. Here the ruble is named in Russian and written with the Cyrilic
alphabet, and abreviated in this script. When such abbreviation can cause
confusion or when it is not clearly perceived as indicating a price, the
need for the symbol with a distinctive glyph tends to develop (this allows
making easy distinctions with other notations on products such as weights,
dates, composition, product quality indexes, and so on... As wel as the
usage for advertizing where there are lots of other messages unrelated to
pricing), but coins and notes do not need to be changed to exhibit it as the
meaning on coins and notes is clear.
For me the need for the symbol comes first for small indications such as
when displaying prices in shops on very small stickers: just displaying the
figures (or even a single abbreviation letter for the currency) is not
clearly a price indicator, and displaying the full name will take too much
space on the sticker. The distinctive symbol is the best solution, but it
must have some good understanding by everyone; for this reason, the design
of the symbol must be kept simple, not more complex than the figures with
which it will be used. And it must be clearly distinct from any digit and
commonoly used letters in the target language (something that abbreviations
do not feature very well unless they are forming a distinctive ligature like
the "Pu" ligature found in some of the proposed symbols for the Ruble).
Currency symbols do not need to be very inventive or creative, just
distinctive and easily understood, so they will share some glyoph features
with the letters of the currency name they are representing, with just a
small difference that is still easy to perceive and draw. Most currency
symbols are formed after a letter (sometimes from some historic name of the
currency) plus a simple additional stroke (sometimes two), it's not very
inventive, but it is the simplest transformation that everyone can see and
Other possibilities would be:
* the superposition or stacking in an unusual layout, of the letters making
* unusual stacking the currency initial above the decimal separators.
However not all prices will be displayed with decimals (independantly of the
fact that the currency has or has not any official subdivisions).
Note that the Euro symbol is not creative: one can easily see a E in it,
even if it is rounded (this is the only effective invention for a capital,
but it is natural if you look at the lowercase letter, so this does not
change the intuitive perception of the symbol). IF the symbol was displayed
on notes and coins it's mostly because there was the need to promote the new
name and facilitate the changeover of currency (and all amounts were not
changed in an easy multiple).
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