Squiggly Underline in Critical Editions

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Apr 9 10:03:06 UTC 2007

>> should underlines (squiggly or other) be considered characters at
>> all?  I think of them as additional information added above the
>> character level (e.g., by a Word processors underline function or
>> an HTML tag).  As such, I am not convinced that they should be
>> part of Unicode at all.  Also, if underlining is handled as a
>> graphical device above the character level, then the problem that
>> Dominik mentioned (oscilloscope effect) would not occur.

It's a good point.  Thinking about document structure, i.e., XML tagging, 
then what the text's editor wishes to express, the aakaankshaa, is that a 
certain substring of the text has some particular feature.  The "right" 
way to express this would be simply with begin-end tags:

  Twas <DoubtfulReading>Brollig</DoubtfulReading>, and the slithy toves...

or even

   Twas Br<DoubtfulReading>o</DoubtfulReading>llig, and the slithy toves...

Everything after this is a matter of mere implementation.  I don't think 
there's any right or wrong at the implementation level, just efficiency or 
the opposite.

In my Metarules book, this is how the implementation worked.  I simply 
marked up the pieces of text with begin/end tags.  (In my case, I was 
marking wrong characters whose appearance could be explained by erroneous 
transliteration from Sarada to Devanagari.)  It was TeX that "decided" to 
implement the printed output by selecting a particular font.  It would 
also be possible for TeX to do a standard wavy-underlining, just as 
OpenOffice does.  It doesn't really matter how the document rendering 
engine manages this.

So I would agree that under-squiggle characters should not be part of a 
Unicode character set.  But they can certainly be part of a font. 
(Remember, Unicode does not define fonts, but character sets.)


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