Re: how to add all latin (and greek) subscripts

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue Jul 01 2008 - 11:07:54 CDT

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    On Jul 1, 2008, at 1:24 AM, Ondrej Certik wrote:

    > Clearly, one needs to draw a line somewhere between the plain text and
    > a markup. The unicode has drawn the line in such a way to put all
    > latin letters to one side and "q" to the other side. That is just
    > ridiculous in my opinion. Who will use the current "crippled" support
    > for superscripts now? I think noone. So maybe we should propose to
    > remove them from unicode altogether. I am actually not against,
    > because the current state clearly encourages one to use it, as you
    > could have seen in our case. If there wasn't already a partial support
    > for this in unicode, this discussion would not be here. So let's fix
    > that. Either way.

    I'm sorry, but you're really missing the fundamental point. Unicode
    doesn't want people to use "the current 'crippled' support for
    superscripts", because the "superscript" letters aren't there to
    provide support for superscripts.

    The existing super-/subscripts are in Unicode for a reason, and that
    reason is *NOT* providing superscripting per se. They're available
    either because of the need for round-trip compatibility with older
    standards or because of some specific needs of some writing systems
    such as IPA, which use characters like "ʰ" as something other than "a
    superscripted h." The fact that ʰ is typographically derived from and
    still looks like a superscripted h is irrelevant. None of these
    requirements happen to include anything that looks like a
    superscripted q.

    If you really want a superscripted h, use rich text. Using ʰ for a
    superscripted h is, from Unicode's perspective, as bogus as using 𝑎
    (U+1D44E) for an italicized a.

    (And for the record, I don't find things like H₂O violently
    objectionable except insofar as people infer from them that Unicode
    has deliberate but half-baked support for super-/subscripts. In the
    long run, it's bad practice to do things like that, but it's on the
    same order as using three periods for an ellipsis or two hyphens for
    an em-dash.)

    John H. Jenkins

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