Re: Irish dotless I (was: Languages with letters that always take diacriticals

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Thu Mar 18 2004 - 13:30:04 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: help needed with adding new character"

    At 11:51 -0600 2004-03-18, Unspecified (i.e.
    Brian, who should really put his name in his
    e-mail program) wrote:

    >I disagree that the question is this simple. It is not just a font issue.

    Yes, it is.

    >It is a matter of the writing system being used.

    The writing system used by Irish is the Latin
    script. Older orthography differs from modern
    orthography, regardless of whether the font has
    Roman glyphs or Gaelic glyphs.

    >For instance, since the spelling reform of the
    >1940s, Irish has represented lenition in a
    >fundamentally different way than in the
    >"traditional" system--i.e., a posterior 'h' vs.
    >the diacritical dot.

    This is well-known to all of us. It is an
    orthographic issue, not an issue of character

    >Thus, the digraph <0062>+<0068> (i.e., "bh") represents the same conceptual
    >object as <1E03>.

    We know.

    >Note that, if a selection of Irish text is set
    >using one convention or the other, problems with
    >spell checkers will occur UNLESS there is some
    >metadata that indicates the writing system.

    Script codes of ISO 15924 could be used to flag
    this, if people were interested in implementing
    it. Microsoft markets an Irish spell-checker (for
    modern orthography), but only on the PC platform,
    which is a bit of a blow to those of us who
    typeset in Irish. Free spell-checkers for the Mac
    are available on my web site. No spell-checkers
    exist for pre-Caighden orthography.

    >Marion's question [...] implies that "dotless i"
    >and "i" are not the same character because the
    >latter DOESN'T EXIST in the traditional writing

    No, it doesn't. The question shows an ignorance
    of the character/glyph model and the facts of the
    development of writing in Irish. The dot on a
    Latin letter "i" is not a diacritical mark, it is
    a feature of some font styles. "Brian" and
    "Bran" are the *same* name in Irish, with the
    *same* spelling. This is a different thing from
    Irish "sn" vs Scottish Gaelic "sn" which are
    *different* spellings -- both differing from the
    word "sin". There is not, nor ever has there
    been, a third distinction between "sin" and "sn".

    >Therefore, it's not a question of what font the
    >document creator chooses; it's a matter of what
    >system is chosen.

    You mistake orthography and glyph choice with
    character identity. "Dotless i" as a *character*
    is used only in Turkic languages, has nothing to
    do with Irish, and never has.

    To answer your question:

    >In the context of a document using traditional
    >Irish orthography (which does not contain "i"),
    >how can "dotless i" be preserved in plain text?

    It may be preserved by the use of fonts without
    dots on the "i". It should not be preserved by
    spelling Irish with the letter used in Turkic
    language orthography, unless you don't want to
    spell-check or sort the data correctly.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Mar 18 2004 - 14:08:21 EST