Re: Commercial minus as italic variant of division sign in German and Scandinavian context

From: Leif Halvard Silli <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:12:17 +0100

Asmus Freytag, Thu, 16 Jan 2014 07:24:45 -0800:
> On 1/16/2014 5:34 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

>> when looking at my message in Firefox [1], the commercial minus
>> looks like a “handwritten” variant of the division sign.

> the fact that the "slant" is reverse, rather than forward,
> is contrary to the way oblique or italic fonts usually work.
> So, again, I find your suggestion of "italic variant" not helpful.

Got it. ;-) Will stop using "italic" about it! Meanwhile, I think there
*is* something to say about the slant, the slant does seem to be
primarily linked to *style*. Just now, at, I found some
vector icons which are simply labelled as minus icons, and which both
of them are shaped like the DIVISION SIGN, and which occurs side by
side with a plus sign. The labels for the icons are simply “Icon -
minus - schwarz weiß“ and ”Icon - minus - hellblau”. See:

You find it in Google if you search for ”kaufmännische Minuszeichen”.
Take that as a hint.

>> Also, I wonder about the claim in the General Punctuation section that
>> commercial minus is used in taxation forms in Scandinavia and Germany.
> I would not be surprised if the actual situation is a bit more
> detailed than expressed in Unicode's namelist annotations (or
> even the descriptions in the chapter texts).
> However, I can't assist you in tracking those down as I have access
> to no taxation forms that use any of these characters. :)


>> Anyway, when I spoke if 2052 as an italic version of 00F7, I meant in
>> the, kind of, “mathematical” sense: […]

> Where the case for 00F7 and 2052 differs from the mathematical alphabets is
> that in the latter case the shape variants are (to a very large
> extent) accurately described by the typographical moniker. A bold is a bold.
> The only exception that I can think of is in the realm of "script",
> where some authors prefer a slightly different style that isn't tied
> to 18th century copperplate.

And by script you mean "handwriting style". That makes sense. That is
how I perceive the German, commercial minus.

> Suggest better text for the book chapter that details the precise
> places that have been established as using 00F7 in the capacity
> of "minus sign". That would be more helpful than trying to somehow
> treat 00F7 and 2052 as glyphic variants of each other. They are
> separate characters, with distinct usage conventions that simply
> happen to employ both a line and two dots. (The fallback of ./. for
> 2052 is interesting in this context).

Ok. Will try. Though I think better text would tie them, rather than
separate them. But I think you are artificially separating them.

> I was focused only at the minority use of 00F7 as a minus sign, in
> which case
> it and 2052 AND 002D and 2012 all function as variants of each other (but
> not as glyphic variants --- they are spelling variants).

Good point. It is like the V and U - they have a common history.

>> It is an argument for seeing 00F7 as (also) a hyphen-minus variant, no?
> Once you get into the dashes, there's tons of variant usage. What's
> documented in Unicode tends to be from predominantly English-language
> style manuals, but if you extend this to all publications in all
> (Western) languages including recent historic times, I'm sure you'd
> find surprising variations.

Does the Unicode spec say this - that is is predominantly English
language based?

>> As it is today, no one seems to realize how commercial
>> minus relates to “division sign minus”.
> "additional" names are ruled out - except to fix something that's
> badly broken.
> Neither of these characters has names that are misleading, mistyped or both.
> There are many characters with deep relations that many users do no know
> about. And, in this case, there seem to be some issues with the precise
> relation you are trying to implement.

I saw it as if in a mist. Now it becomes clearer and clearer to me. :-)

This fun page indicates that the ./. “fallback” has a 35 year history.
Which could fit well together with a theory that the script variant
grew in popularity when the ”international” ÷ division sign of
computers entered German math. That ÷ as minus ”went back” due to
computers and calculators, seems to be the general trend.

leif halvard silli
Unicode mailing list
Received on Thu Jan 16 2014 - 10:13:21 CST

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