"Bunny hill" symbol, used in America for signaling ski pistes for novices

Asmus Freytag (t) asmus-inc at ix.netcom.com
Fri May 29 00:46:58 CDT 2015

On 5/28/2015 2:15 PM, Shawn Steele wrote:
> I’m used to them being next to each other.  So the entire discussion 
> seems to be about how to encode a concept vs how to get the shape you 
> want with existing code points.   If you just want the perfect shape, 
> then maybe an svg is a better choice.  If we’re talking about 
> describing ski-run difficulty levels in plain-text, then the 
> hodge-podge of glyphs being offered in this thread seems kinda hacky 
> to me.
> -Shawn
*Symbols, have a rather different relation between identity and 
collection of typical shapes than letters.*

For symbols, the way they are re-used in different conventions is 
different as well.

For letters, in many scripts, what matters is that they represent
a) a member of an alphabet (subset of a script)
b) readers and writers can agree *which* member of the alphabet is 
intended (identity).

This identity selection is the sum total of the "semantics" of the 
character, when it comes to letters.

Some symbols, like the integral signs, are closely tied to a 
well-defined notation, which in turn governs the acceptability of the 
range of visual representations.

For general symbols you quickly get to the situation where the shape 
*is* the identity. For geometric shapes, you can't really predict how 
they are going to be used and in which conventions. (That is true for 
the more generically shaped punctuation marks as well, like period). 
Because you can't predict the use to be made of them, what you need to 
guarantee the writer (author) is that the shape he or she sees is what 
the reader will see, so that the author can make the determination that 
the symbol represents the notational element, or the concept, that was 

That means, you really need to approach the encoding of symbols 
differently from letters, where the latter have a well established 
"identity" and the only task for a visual representation is to give 
enough unambiguous details so as to be able to select that identity from 
a restricted set. (Hence the wide range of wonderfully whimsical 
decorative fonts).

It's useless to treat some "concept" as the functional equivalent of a 
letter's membership in an alphabet. Unlike the case of writing systems, 
neither authors nore readers have the same kind prior agreement of how 
much you can vary a shape and still refer to the same concept. 
(Obviously, even among symbols there is some variation in this regard). 
As a result, you simply need to allow the encoding to become more shape 
based. So that authors can create documents that do not have to rely on 
the missing agreement with the readers on what other shapes may or may 
not be substituted successfully without affecting  the semantics (not of 
the code point, but of the text).

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