RE: Exemplifying apostrophes

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon May 19 2008 - 21:12:59 CDT

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    > -----Message d'origine-----
    > De :
    > [] De la part de Jim Allan
    > Envoyé : mardi 20 mai 2008 02:59
    > À :
    > Objet : Re: Exemplifying apostrophes
    > Philippe Verdy wrote:
    > > On the opposite there's the case of glottal stops, ayin, and similar
    > > sounds like consonnnantal clicks or centralized vowels: they need a
    > > letter, not a letter modifier, because they can frequently occur in
    > > leading position like other consonnants or vowels. And their letter
    > > form is also normally distinct from apostrophes: they should never
    > > be a vertical tick like a the ASCII quote, and they are slightly
    > > turned and effectively curved and also normally dissymetric in their
    > > form; these letters should also be visibly distinct from the elision
    > > apostrophe and the punctuation quotes... (they may be distinct from
    > > spacing accents but this is not strictly required in those
    > > languages as they don't need spacing accents).
    > You mean “Spacing Modifier Letter”, Philippe, not “letter modifier”.

    No, I meant "letter modifier" here, even if some of them may appear in
    leading position like ‘ayin and ‘aleph, they are still intended to be used
    with another letter but not isolately where they would be unpronounceable.

    I did not mean that they were necessarily "combining marks", because they
    are effectively spacing, and it's not cleart with which letter (before or
    after) they combine, that's why they may be considered as letters themselves
    (Arabic ayin/aleph, and Cyrillic hard/soft signs in are good examples, but
    letter H in Latin is another example where it is not clear what it modifies
    as it is language dependant and highly contextual within frequent digraphs;
    another example is Latin letter E in German, or N in French/English... for
    nasalisation of the preceding vowel or prenasalisation of the following
    consonnant). But they may still be considered as combining marks, because
    they are not necessarily always "spacing", or they may be attached to the
    letter they modify to create a ligature that is larger than the letter

    "Letter modifier" is then what I intended. I keep the term "combining mark"
    for the Unicode encoding and the related normalization algorithms; I
    compleltely avoid speaking about which one is "spacing" or not (combining
    marks may be spacing as well, see the cedilla written on the left of some
    lowercase letters, and loking like an apostrophe, but still below their
    capital counterparts).

    The only thing that is important here is their semantic interpretation
    within text and the allowed transformations of text, that us justifying a
    separate encoding to make the necessary distinctions, even if this is not
    always visible graphically: letter modifiers are normally required
    orthographically, but combining marks may be often optionally removed from
    the visible text, without always changing this meaning or considering this
    rendering as incorrect.

    There's some "grey line" here: when speaking about linguistic orthographies,
    it's best to avoid terms that are too precise because they have too strong
    definitions in Unicode (that encodes some distinctions not always
    significant for all languages, and that uses a quite specific terminology
    for this language-independant purpose).

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