a character for an unknown character

Martin Mueller martinmueller at northwestern.edu
Thu Dec 22 23:40:42 CST 2016

Many thanks for this suggestion, which may do the trick. I assume that APL refers to the APL language and that this symbol comes from the math world. But to judge from the terse description, it would not be an abuse of this character to use it when you want to say “I am quite sure that there is just one character missing here, and it is almost certainly from the same character set as the character surrounding it, but I have no idea which of them it represents.”  It is visually clear and unobtrusive, and you can cut and paste it from a standard keyboard map (I’ve tested it on a Mac.

From: Leo Broukhis <leobro at gmail.com>
Reply-To: "leob at mailcom.com" <leob at mailcom.com>
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 6:31 PM
To: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
Cc: unicode Unicode Discussion <unicode at unicode.org>
Subject: Re: a character for an unknown character

You may want to consider U+2370 APL FUNCTIONAL SYMBOL QUAD QUESTION.


On Dec 22, 2016 15:35, "Martin Mueller" <martinmueller at northwestern.edu<mailto:martinmueller at northwestern.edu>> wrote:
These are very handsome and interesting. But for the purposes of my project, which involves folks here, there, and everywhere working on editorial problems relating to digital transcriptions of Early Modern texts, the cardinal requirement is that the character can be found on and deployed from any Windows, Linux, or OS 10 machin. We have used the black dot (\u25cf) as a kludge. Since it does not occur in the source data, there is no ambiguity. It is relatively easy to produce on a keyboard. From a visual perspective it is preferable to the diamond with a question mark—although that is semantically more obvious. But it is visually very disruptive, and it is much harder to find on a standard character map than the black dot, which is predictably located in geometrical shapes.

It’s a kludge, but it works, and it looks to me superior to any of the alternatives. But I can be persuaded otherwise.

With thanks for the help of all of you


On 12/22/16, 6:03 AM, "William_J_G Overington" <wjgo_10009 at btinternet.com<mailto:wjgo_10009 at btinternet.com>> wrote:

    Martin Mueller wrote:

    > Is there a Unicode character that says “I represent an alphanumerical character, but I don’t know which”.  This is a very common problem in the transcription of historical texts where you have lacunas.

    I have been reading this thread with interest.

    I have produced nine designs for glyphs.

    If you so choose, you can assign specific meanings to one, some, or all of them. If you need more than nine designs please say.

    Please find attached nine .png files, one glyph design in each file.

    The size of each of the images and the names of the files follow the following specification.

    However the images are not congruently in accordance with those rules as there is a one pixel width transparent surround as the designs were made using filled rectangles upon a theoretical seven row by seven column arrangement of blocks, each block ten pixels by ten pixels. I used the Serif PagePlus X7 desktop publishing program.

    The characters are not intended as emoji, I just applied the above specification as it is convenient to make the designs compatible with that specification as far as possible.

    I have assigned Private Use Area code points of U+EA60 through to U+EA68 to the glyphs. The specific code point for each glyph is indicated in the file name of the image of that glyph.

    I have chosen those code points as the Alt codes for U+EA60 through to U+EA68 are Alt 60000 through to Alt 60008 respectively. My thinking being that if the designs are implemented in fonts that those easy to remember Alt codes might be helpful to someone using the Microsoft WordPad program.

    I checked that those code points are not being used in the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative.

    Readers who so choose are welcome to implement these glyphs in fonts.
    The https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.unicode.org_emoji_selection.html-23images&d=CwIFaQ&c=yHlS04HhBraes5BQ9ueu5zKhE7rtNXt_d012z2PA6ws&r=rG8zxOdssqSzDRz4x1GLlmLOW60xyVXydxwnJZpkxbk&m=rtTUf0iueQJPUWv8oFWfDyJBHafFPYQJ5mZelPYN_mE&s=VMzwU8ONTcLHvFcK5hcR9yj5TT3SzYSs-YYB8IGRq_A&e=  specification mentions licensing. For the avoidance of doubt these designs are free to share and use.

    A Private Use Area solution is not ideal, yet may be helpful in getting things started and could be helpful in establishing usage, which could help in getting the characters implemented into regular Unicode.

    I am attaching the images to this email. The nature of the email system is that the order of the images might not be in the order of the code points, yet each image has an indication of the code point within its name so that information should help to resolve any such problem in the transmission of the email attachments.

    William Overington

    Thursday 22 December 2016

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