Italics get used to express important semantic meaning, so unicode should support them

David Starner prosfilaes at
Sun Dec 20 01:23:31 CST 2020

On Sat, Dec 19, 2020 at 4:49 AM Otto Stolz via Unicode
<unicode at> wrote:
> A notorious German example:
>    Er hat in Moskau liebe Genossen. (= He’s got dear comrades at Moskow)
>    Er hat in Moskau Liebe genossen. (= He has enjoyed love at Moskow)
>    (And I assure you, the prosody varies accordingly, hence the
>    difference is quite clear in speech, and must be preserved
>    in writing.)

She _loves_ him !?! (= I can't believe her emotion towards him is love.)
She loves _him_ !?! (= I can't believe that he is the one she loves,
and not someone else.)

And the prosody varies accordingly, and any accurate preservation in
writing would need to record the difference.

> As only the author (and no other stage, be it human or automatic) can
> know the intended meaning, Unicode is quite right when encoding the case
> distinction.

Meh. I could come up with similar examples, though probably a bit more
contrived, for just about every bit of markup. Italics/emphasis has a
bunch of pretty clear meaning changes, like the example above,
possibly more than casing in English. Fraktur/Antiqua mixing allows
for any number of examples; "<fraktur>Er was</fraktur> clever." is
different from "<fraktur>Er was clever</fraktur>".* Casing certainly
had more of an argument to be encoded in the character set than
italics, historically, but I can imagine an alternate history, maybe
one the leaders in computing history used a non-casing script, where
casing was relegated to markup, and a lot of issues would be
easier--no more problems with case-insensitive matching, and the
Turkish i would be a font difference under markup.

* Italics marking in English could serve the same role in making a
bunch of examples; e.g. "The French man said to stop at the coin" and
"The French man said to stop at the <i>coin</i>." mean different

The standard is written in English . If you have trouble understanding
a particular section, read it again and again and again . . . Sit up
straight. Eat your vegetables. Do not mumble. -- _Pascal_, ISO 7185

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