Re: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S

From: Mark E. Shoulson (
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 14:36:35 CDT

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    Philippe Verdy wrote:

    >> De : [] De la
    >> part de Otto Stolz
    >> Envoyé : jeudi 10 mai 2007 17:16
    >> À : John Hudson
    >> Cc : 'Unicode Discussion'; Kevin Larson
    >> Objet : Re: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S
    >> John Hudson schrieb:
    >>> The fact that it is easier to decipher text when the bottom half is
    >>> covered than when the top half is covered is an accident of the
    >>> evolution of Latin letterforms, not a clue to how we read normal text.
    >>> The arrangement of features could just as easily produce the opposite
    >>> and equally accidental result.
    >> Example: Devanagari (or so I guess)
    Actually, as I think about it, not really so much. Many (not all) of the
    letters have only a simple stem for a bottom. And of course the very top
    is usually just the plain line (with some important distinctions made
    there as well). The real information seems to be mostly in the top half
    of the part below the horizontal roofline. Consider for letters like ग घ
    च ज ञ ण य म भ फ प न ध ष ल क व ब (it isn't entirely obvious necessarily
    in all fonts, e.g. the "top half" of घ and ध in my font extends almost
    to the bottom of the letter). Naturally, there are a lot of letters with
    plenty of information in the bottom too... त द ट ठ ड ढ.
    > I said "Latin" script. My argument is equally valid for Denavanagari
    > readers: they learn to read by looking at the bottom part...

    Anyway, I'm not sure how much difference this really makes. General
    pronouncements and trends are handy, but there are exceptions all
    around, I think, and capital-ß would seem to be an unusual letter to
    begin with. I think the readers we have here can tell which ones they
    can read.

    Meanwhile, I thought the examples Michael Everson did with the square
    gamma-shaped left side really didn't work, but Adam Twardoch's attempts
    were good. I think the square left side needs the ezh-shaped right side.
    Whereas other examples of Michael's were quite successful, both in
    looking like "a capital ß" and in looking like "a ligature of two
    capital Ss, along the lines of ß" (though not necessarily both in the
    same example).

    OTOH, I'm not a German-speaker or reader, and I confess that 90% of the
    time when I see ß, it's the "B" circuits in my brain that fire first. So
    my opinion probably shouldn't be relied upon (and indeed, very likely
    should be ridiculed heartily).


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