Superscript and Subscript Characters in General Use

Marcel Schneider charupdate at
Sat Jan 7 21:48:04 CST 2017

Iʼm bringing quickly two updates to what has been previously said, while there’s
no other on-going discussion:

# Combining diacritics on modifier letters

Iʼm surprised to see that combining diacritics are already supported with 
modifier letters. When in my past mails I believed that they arenʼt, I remembered 
some example in a last yearʼs thread, that didnʼt look well, as isnʼt the rendering 
in my drafts.

Now Iʼve used the string U+0053 U+1D57 U+1D49 U+0301 ('Sᵗᵉ́') in the subject and 
in the body of an e-mail, sent and received it and printed it out to a PDF file. 
It renders fairly well everywhere except in the subject at writing (too high) and 
in the subject in the inbox and the displayed mail (too far). This is clearly a 
font issue (equally in Chrome and in Firefox, using a webmail).

When used in business mail, this could be appealing on one hand (at least when the 
bugging fonts have been updated) and convey a connotation of respectfulness, while 
on the other hand it could still raise the suspicion of unefficiency and time 
waste, as long as people arenʼt aware how easy it is to input, thinking at 
character pickers. I actually hold two modifiers down while typing 'te', and hit 
the acute dead key (in the base shift state) and the space bar. To some degree 
itʼs the same situation as with the letter 'œ', that many people here still type 
as ASCII fallback 'oe' (despite of having a shortcut in Word) and that is now 
coming on the standard keyboard.

# Expected modifier letter small q

Given that the use of modifier letters in the place of formatted superscript in 
abbreviations in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and perhaps some 
other languages is a fallback that for high-end processing is to be replaced with 
formatted baseline letters, one could consider using a fallback character while 
waiting for the *MODIFIER LETTER SMALL Q to be encoded. The best approximation 
seems to be U+1DA3 MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED H. In a draft, the abbreviation 
of 'Bibliothèque' [Library] as in [1] would then be spelled 'Biblioᶣᵘᵉ'. That could 
eventually become a fixed convention supported by the conversion macros (that 
target only abbreviations in natural languages, not phonetics, nor random strings). 

Among the fallbacks discussed so far, this last one could be considered a “hack”. 
This is why it must not be put in the place of *MODIFIER LETTER SMALL Q on the 
keyboard layouts. This allocation should still output a message string such as: 
“ ^q_unavailable”, or “ ^q_n’existe_pas” (the maximum number of characters is 16, 
conforming to the Windows limitation; on macOS itʼs practically 20, because with 
a few more, TextEdit on Snow Leopard shuts down, whatever "maxout" is set to). 
U+1DA3 MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED H can be input by '[superscript]#h', where 
'#' (after compose or another dead key) is the (newly defined) composition 
character for "turned".

Once the macros will be written and available (any help is welcome!), should I 
still be flagged down for undisciplined hacks and for endorsing random suggestions?

Kind regards,


[1] Karl Pentzlinʼs *MODIFIER LETTER SMALL Q proposal:

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