Capital schwa vs. reversed E (Re: Character list for European and Canadian use in the revised keyboard standard ISO/IEC 9995-3, supplementing MES-1)

From: Karl Pentzlin (
Date: Fri Oct 17 2008 - 04:30:39 CDT

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    Am Freitag, 17. Oktober 2008 um 01:10 schrieb Benjamin M Scarborough:

    BMS> Karl Pentzlin wrote:
    >> The revision of ISO/IEC 9995-3 is done for this time. The result
    >> will be distributed for CD ballot.
    >> Extensive information about this revision can be found at:

    BMS> If I may ask, why does this include U+018E LATIN CAPITAL LETTER
    BMS> REVERSED E without its lowercase counterpart, U+01DD LATIN SMALL LETTER

    The "current common secondary group layout" as defined in the current
    CD ballot version of the revised ISO/IEC 9995-3 contains the following
    At position C11 (where the US keyboard has ;/: in its primary group):
      unshifted: U+019B latin small letter lambda with stroke
      shifted: U+018E latin capital letter reversed e
    At position C12 (where the US keyboard has "/' in its primary group):
      unshifted: U+0259 latin small letter schwa
      shifted: U+018F latin capital letter schwa

    These were selected to accommodate indigenous languages of Canada
    which use the schwa. According to the sparse information I could
    gather within the time frame to edit the CD ballot version, many
    speakers of this languages tend to write using lower case only and do
    not use upper case with a regularity accustomed to writers of (e.g.)
    English. Thus, the use of upper case letters is not rigidly
    standardized. When the schwa is uppercased, some use Ə, some use Ǝ,
    some don't care. Thus, in the context of Canadian indigenous
    languages, Ə/Ǝ are glyph variants of the same letter called invariantly
    "schwa" (the spelling "shwa" is also found often).

    Thus, it was decided to supply the letter schwa at is full extent (as
    it was to be included also to support Azerbaijani), and to include
    the upper case Ǝ for those which prefer to use that glyph variant.
    Having the lower case "latin small letter turned e" (which looks
    exactly like the lower case schwa) on the same keyboard layout,
    would appear as a confusing duplication for the ordinary user (who
    is not a linguist or coding expert). [Note: For reasons described
    in , the revised
    standard is more addressed to Canadian than to Nigerian users.]

    Another problem affects the lambda with stroke, which is a very common
    letter in Canadian indigenous languages (mostly used with a comma
    accent which may be regarded as U+0313 or U+0315, with a glyph
    variance spectrum including turned y with stroke or turned Latin gamma
    with stroke).
    This lower case letter has no upper case counterpart until now (Unicode 5.1).
    Apparently, this causes no problem to its users as they do not care
    about uppercasing as much as the writers of (e.g.) English: when they
    present a text completely upper cased otherwise, they simply let the
    lower case lambda with stroke alone.

    However, if a Latin letter capital lambda with stroke happens to be
    encoded within the CD ballot time of the revised ISO/IEC 9995-3, there
    may arise the request to include this character at the shifted
    position of the lower case complement. In this case, the capital Ǝ may
    in fact be dropped, telling all users of the schwa that its "correct"
    upper case form is Ə unless they use a font which employs their
    preferred glyph variant.

    -- Karl Pentzlin

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