Re: U+25CA LOZENGE - why is it in the "Mac OS Roman" character set (and therefore widespread in current fonts)?

From: Doug Ewell <>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2012 08:18:17 -0700

Karl Pentzlin <karl dash pentzlin at acssoft dot de> wrote:

> My intent is to get information *why* the character was considered
> that important at that time to be included into an 8-bit character set
> with its limited space. The problem I am confronted with is that this
> character shares its German name "Raute" with the "#", and I have to
> consider any historical use of the (real) lozenge when describing
> the "#" in a keyboard-related German publication I have to make.

Every character has a story, and this one has probably been told often,
but the lozenge is used in accounting applications to represent a
subtotal. It goes back to punched card codes, where it was originally
intended to be "meaningless" (see Mackenzie) but quickly acquired the
subtotal meaning.

"Lozenge" is often also called "diamond" in English, in case that helps.

> (The name "Raute" for "#" seems to derive from the International
> Telecommunication Union standard ITU-T E.161, which requires the name
> "square, or the most commonly used equivalent term in other languages"
> for the sign on the lower right corner of 12-key telephone keypads,
> which is translated into "Raute" instead of literally "Quadrat".
> The term "square" is also used that way in the name of U+2317
> VIEWDATA SQUARE, which is a "straight #" like it is in fact shown on
> most telephone keypads.)

That's true in Europe, and probably most of the world. In the U.S.,
where industry often scoffs at international standards until
non-compliance affects sales, the keypad symbol looks much more like the
reference glyph for U+0023, and it is called "pound sign" or "number
sign" or "hash," even "octothorpe," anything but "square."

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA | @DougEwell ­
Received on Mon Aug 13 2012 - 10:20:12 CDT

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