Re: Another take on the English apostrophe in Unicode

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2015 04:02:39 +0200

2015-06-11 20:46 GMT+02:00 Bill Poser <>:

> I agree with the recommendation of U+02BC. However, it is in fact rarely
> used because most of the people who write these languages or create
> supporting infrastructure are unawre of such issues.
> A small point: it isn't always the spacing diacritic that is used. In some
> languages, e.g. Halkomelem, people use the spacing apostrophe if they have
> to but prefer the non-spacing version.

True but on the examples I gave, spacing is needed: the apostrophe is
intended to not collide with the previous or next letter, including when
writing capital letters. In the Breton trigram "c’h" where it it plays a
diacritic role, but as well in the English elision "don’t", the collision
would occur after the apostrophe with the ascenders.

The only alternative would have been to use a diacritic above one of the
two letters for the diacritic apostrophe (and the best diacritic that would
have been used for Breton or English would have been an acute accent over
the first consonnant. But such usage of combining characters is non
conforming for its use as an elision mark.

An elision alone is not supposed to change the pronunciation of the
remaining letters.So it would have not been appropriate for the elisions in
English "don’t", or in French "j’ai" or "s’est" (this is not a strict rule,
French or English also have exceptions where some combinations are used and
written that change the way the letters are effectively phonetically
realized, including with elisions: "don’t" is a perfect example where "n"
looses its consonnant value as it is glued with the previous vowel to
nasalize it and slightly stress it and in other contexts the following t is
also muted as in "you don't have to do that" in fast speech: this is still
the same contraction/elision and it is justified to keep the elision mark
separate without noting how the following or next letter are contextually
realized, but in all case the elision glues two syllables into only one and
the apostrophe is written between the remaining letters of morphemes on
each side).

If you use a non-spacing version, this can in fact only occur graphically
when the following letter is a small letter without ascenders : I still
think that this is the spacing version, but what happens is just the effect
of some contextual typographic kerning (the same thing that happens in
pairs like "AV", "fi", "ij", "To"...)

Also you claim that U+02BC is rarely used for the elision apostrophe. This
is plain wrong for French at least, even if people only have an ASCII
apostrophe on their native keyboard (there are many word processors that
will correctly enter the appropriate "curly" apostrophe as U+02BC instead
of the ugly ASCII vertical quote. Even in English when you look at
correctly typeset documents the ASCII quote is replaced by U+2BC (look at
large section headings, book titles).
U+02BC is also prefered in English for the elision apostrophe. For English
you may want to read this:
ASCII and the computer keyboards just perpetuate the limited charset that
was supported by old mechanical typewriters. I don't understand why PC
keyboards could be extended to add many "multimedia" control keys or
function keys, but not the traditional quotes that are needed (and even
sometimes letters still missing in all "standard" physical keyboard leyouts
for French, such as œ/Œ, æ/Æ, or frequent capitals with accents such as É,
which is however present on virtual onscreen keyboards for smartphones and
It's high time to restore these letters (and also campaign so that
manufacturer of physical keyboards will add a few more keys for national
letters (they did it for Japanese only, why not for French or even English,
to have more punctuation signs and missing letters or diacritics). It is
perfectly possible to find a place for them on physical keyboards just
above the numeric key (F1..F12 keys can be compacted if needed, and a
couple of dead keys can also be mapped to the right of the Return key
without reducing the size of the space bar or the Return/Backspace keys or
other modifier keys).
Some notebook manufacturers have used two additional preprogrammed keys
(e.g. Acer, stupidly, for an unneeded additional Euro symbol whose location
on AltGr+E or AltGr+4 in UK is standard, the second one being bound to the
dollar symbol aslo not needed !). What is needed is 5 standard keys with
standard keycodes, different from keycodes used for user-programmable keys
(generally labelled PF1, PF2... but sometimes unlabelled) and different
from application-dependant function keys (e.g. generic color keys, like on
TV remote controls for navigation in menus: red, green, yellow, blue)
Note that this is different from the existing feature on some keyboards
defining programmable keys, whose layout is not programmable by the driver
itself but by individual settings of the user, independantly of thre
selected keyboard layout): adding about 5 or 6 keys would be very helpful
and could gretly simplify layouts for languages/scripts that are complicate
to input.
Received on Thu Jun 11 2015 - 21:04:22 CDT

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