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Re: accented characters, etc.

From: <Jukka.Korpela@hut.fi>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 02:24:24 -0500 (EST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.10.9912030859080.3114-100000@beta.hut.fi>
On Thu, 2 Dec 1999, Sean Healy wrote:

> Is it possible to put an overstrike tag in the next version that will allow 
> authors to specify two (or more) characters to place overtop each other.  
> There is something similar with the strikeout tag that places a line through 
> letters.  Perhaps something like <OS>~n</OS> could replace &ntilde; - - 

Murray Altheim explained well some fundamental reasons why adding
new entities (which isn't what you suggested, but a commonly made
suggestion to solve the same problem as you are addressing) isn't
really a solution, or would be at most a minor detail in a solution.
An entity like &ntilde; is basically comparable to a named constant,
referring to a numeric character reference, so it cannot work if the
reference doesn't (except in perverse implementations). Personally,
I don't even think that entity names are mnemonic in a useful way.
(Consider &brvbar; &laquo; &Acirc; - remembering or checking them
isn't really much easier than remembering or checking the numeric
references, and you have the very real risk of remembering them
_wrong_, because the names are rather arbitrarily truncated.)

Tags wouldn't solve the problem or make the solution any easier.
Without going into the issue whether tags should be used to solve
character level problems, I'll just state the fundamental practical
problem: Constructing characters from components like a base character
(say n) and a diacritic sign (like tilde) is much more complicated
than simple Unicode support. _If_ a browser would internally just convert
something like <OS>~n</OS> to a "precomposed" letter like the one denoted
by &ntilde;, it would then just need to display that letter, but in that
case we would win nothing as compared to using numeric character
references. And if a browser would have to display such characters
which don't exist as precomposed in Unicode, it would need to have
Unicode implementation level 3 support, which is a "dream on" matter. See
http://www.nada.kth.se/i18n/ucs/unicode-iso10646-oview.html#3
http://www.hut.fi/u/jkorpela/chars.html#compose

-- 
Yucca, http://www.hut.fi/u/jkorpela/ or http://yucca.hut.fi/yucca.html
Received on Friday, 3 December 1999 02:25:51 GMT

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