Suggestion for superscripts

Daniel Buncic daniel.buncic at
Fri Jun 4 02:45:23 CDT 2021

Am 03.06.2021 um 22:16 schrieb William_J_G Overington via Unicode:
> Interestingly, many years ago Bernard Miller, in his Bytext
> proposal, suggested what he termed "arrow parentheses".

Am 04.06.2021 um 01:14 schrieb Don Peterson via Unicode:
> Alas, that's not a solution for environments like a text editor, bash
> window, terminal, etc.

Well, an environment where real superscripts can for some reason not be
implemented could display those “arrow parentheses” as control
characters.  Something like Pa↑(-1.3)·s⁻² would in fact look better and
be more unambiguous than Pa**-1.3·s⁻² or Pa^-1.3·s⁻² (where one does not
really know whether the s⁻² is part of the exponent or not).

We already have lots of characters that influence the rendering of other
characters, e.g. combining diacritics, variation selectors,
right-to-left marks, zero-width joiner and non-joiner, etc.  These
“arrow parentheses” would be some more such characters, and not very
difficult to implement for most applications, which already have a way
of displaying superscripts and subscripts in rich text.

Am 04.06.2021 um 07:48 schrieb a.lukyanov via Unicode:
> There are more of them:
> ᵃᵇᶜᵈᵉᶠᵍʰⁱʲᵏˡᵐⁿᵒᵖʳˢᵗᵘᵛʷˣʸᶻ

Yes, and even more:

capital ᴬᴮᴰᴱᴳᴴᴵᴶᴷᴸᴹᴺᴼᴾᴿᵀᵁⱽᵂ, Greek ᵝᵞᵟᵠᶲᶿᵡ, Cyrillic ꚜꚝᵸ, and lots of
IPA and other phonetic transcription characters, all of them named
“modifier letter”.

It somehow seems a waste of codepoints (and of time for all the
registration processes) to encode every superscript or subscript
character separately that somewhere turns up as relevant instead of just
getting away with a couple of control characters and being done with the
registration of superscript and subscript characters forever (just as we
need to register no more accented characters because we have combining

And as to the question of whether these are just glyphs that do not
deserve being encoded or actual characters:  s⁻² ≠ s−2, and, in the very
same manner, x to the power of 1.3·ε, which I currently cannot write
without rich-text markup, is not the same as x−1.3·ε.  This is a crucial
difference that, in my opinion, cannot be left to rich text environments.


Prof. Dr. Daniel Bunčić
Slavisches Institut der Universität zu Köln
Weyertal 137, D-50931 Köln
Telefon:       +49 (0)221  470-3355
Telefax:       +49 (0)221  470-5001
Breslauer Straße 54, D-50321 Brühl
Telefon:       +49 (0)2232  150 42 80
E-Mail:        daniel at
Skype:         danielbuncic

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