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

Dominikus Dittes Scherkl lyratelle at
Mon Dec 21 05:21:27 CST 2020

Am 20.12.20 um 08:23 schrieb David Starner via Unicode:
> 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.
Prosody is a wholly different thing, as others already mentioned.
But in fact, you DID preserve it - in plain text - by adding an
underscore before and after the word with emphasis. You could also have
used ' or " or even * for the same effect, but nevertheless it is
already possible to preserve the special intent of the author _without_
any further additions.

Also even with italics allowed (and maybe bold or othere style features)
this does not indicate _what_ was special about the highlighted words.
Was it emphasis? Or indicated a thought? Or a special meaning of an
ambiguous word? Or whatever else? - all this would need further
agreement or conventions, which are not standardized so far.

                                          Dominikus Dittes Scherkl

More information about the Unicode mailing list