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

From: Karl Pentzlin <karl-pentzlin_at_acssoft.de>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2012 12:48:34 +0200

Am Montag, 13. August 2012 um 20:53 schrieb Hans Aberg:

HA> The German WP mentions that in the context of the now
HA> discontinued Bildschirmtext, it was called "Raute":
HA> https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelkreuz_(Satzzeichen)
HA> https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bildschirmtext

HA> But otherwise, "Raute" is the same as English "lozenge":
HA> https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raute_(Symbol)

In fact, I have heavily edited these Wikipedia articles in the last days,
Before, they show a mess of "Doppelkreuz", "Raute", and "Nummernzeichen"
When I started my current work on a keyboard related paper (which is
the first time that I have to write for the general public, rather
than for colleagues in the standardizing business), I started with
a scheme:
 "Doppelkreuz" (literally: double cross) is the usual name for "#"
    as a character.
 "Raute" is:
    a. lozenge
    b. the viewdata square in the now discontinued Bildschirmtext
       (which roughly corresponds to Viewdata, Videotex or Prestel
        in other countries.)
 "Nummernzeichen" (literally: number sign) is a collective term for
    "#" and the "Numero-Zeichen" đ U+2116 NUMERO SIGN, as using it
    specifically for "#" would cause confusion, as the "#" never was
    used for marking numbers except on desktop calculators, and the
    name in fact was used for the NUMERO SIGN also.
Then, I extended and edited the Wikipedia articles according to this
scheme.

Now, after discussing this with several people, I learned that this
scheme was too academic, as in fact everybody seems to call the "#"
"Raute". The word "Raute" otherwise is unused in colloquial German.
You learn in math lessons that there is a geometric form called
"Rhombus" (lozenge) which also can be called "Raute", but in the class
"Rhombus" is the preferred term. "Raute" also is the preferred term in
heraldics, but used by the general public only when referring to the
pattern of the Bavarian flag. (Besides, "Raute" is used in the name
of some herbs, like Ruta graveolens, but also only by specialists.)

The lozenge usually is called "Karo" in colloquial language (like the
diamond suit on playing cards), and only "Rhombus" when it deviates
too much from a square standing on its corner.

Thus, when the "#" came as a new character to the general public
with the keypad telephone in the 1970s, together with a name "Raute"
which sounds not unknown and not really wrong, thus it got its way
into the general public together with the "#" (which, as said, was
formerly not used in Germany).

"Raute" is e.g. used by customer services which you call when you have
a question regarding your mobile phone, and you are told to press the
lower right key on your telephone keypad.

On the other hand, as far as I know now (and a DIN officer confirmed
me this), there is no German standard which uses the term "Raute".

Thus, I probably will use the term "Doppelkreuz" but have to remark
that I address the character commonly called "Raute". As the
discussion so far showed no evidence for any relevant general public
use for the lozenge besides the subtotal on desktop calculators,
I fortunately do not have to address this in depth.

Thanks to all participants so far.

- Karl
Received on Tue Aug 14 2012 - 05:50:44 CDT

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