Re: Uppercase ß is coming? (U+1E9E)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 15:33:17 CST

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: Uppercase ß is coming? (U+1E9E)"

    Frank Ellermann wrote:

    >> I still don't think it is anything other than a glyph variant of SS.

    > More like long-S fraktur-Z, see e.g.
    > and">

    No, no, no, no...

    You are making the same mistake as the people who proposed the uppercase eszett: you are
    assuming that 'ligature' implies something about the visual relationship to the underlying
    characters (which led the proposers to assume that this glyph is a single character and
    not a ligature). This is not the sense in which the term ligature is used in text
    processing, which is simply as a single glyph representing more than one character. That
    is what is important: the relationship in text processing and display operations of the
    glyph to the characters, not the visual relationship. There are plenty of 'ligatures' in
    the world's writing systems that bear little or no visual relationship to their underlying
    characters. Traditional Byzantine Greek cursive writing is full of them, and there are
    plenty of examples in Indic scripts.

    When I say that I think the uppercase eszett is a glyph variant of SS I am not talking at
    all about its appearance, but about what it represents in text. I believe it represents
    the uppercase of ß, and the uppercase of ß *is* SS; ergo, the uppercase eszett represents
    SS. So I have proposed a mechanism by which the glyph variant can be employed without the
    need to break the standard rules of German orthography and text encoding, and without the
    need to limit the range of fonts in which German text desiring this glyph variant can be
    displayed in a readable way (i.e. automatically using SS where the font in question does
    not support the glyph variant).

    I look at this proposal in light of the kind of things I am doing every day in smart
    fonts, and I don't see any difference between this glyph variant and dozens of other
    display issues that I deal with on a regular basis and which don't require character
    encoding solutions. Sometimes, those display issues might have been simplified if Unicode
    had encoded distinct characters, but more often the opposite is true: the existence of
    Unicode encodings for things that should not have been encoded (e.g. the Arabic
    presentation form ligatures) actually cause problems for both developers and users. So I
    look at something like the uppercase eszett proposal, and I ask 'Is this going to solve
    problems or cause problems?'. It seems to me that it causes more problems than it solves,
    and that the problems that is aims to solve can be solved in other ways that cause fewer

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Gulf Islands, BC
    We say our understanding measures how things are,
    and likewise our perception, since that is how we
    find our way around, but in fact these do not measure.
    They are measured.   -- Aristotle, Metaphysics

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