let's talk Greek kai symbol

2

Comments

  • This feels like something that should be handled by a higher-level technology, like text-substitution by the operating system (like “(c)” to “©”, or “---” to “—”, or “->” to “→”). That way, the user can undo the automatic substitution if not desired and the visual appearance of the text matches the encoding of the text (copying the text would copy ϗ and not &).
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    Since & and ϗ are both standard Unicode characters, I am unhappy with the idea of using glyph processing to represent the one with the other.

    But it would be no different than, say, Bulgarian Cyrillic <locl> substituting д by (something that looks like Latin) g.
    Because it’s just a glyph shape change (to ampersand.kai), not a change to a different character.
  • As John mentioned, glyph processing and OT fancies are not the proper way to deal with a matter which is clearly one of character distinction, thorough font conception and usable keyboard design.
    1. Accept that 03CF and 03D7 are mandatory parts of a solid Greek font.
    2. Use / promote keyboard layouts which enable users to access these ch.s without getting penetrated to klick „&“ instead.

    Let’s deal with the issue by handling it straightforward and simple and proper, instead of making it over-complex and complicated so that it will never meet the requirements of ordinary people in normal life.

  • A nice workaround for having quick access to the symbol(s) on your mac is to use Ukelele.

    After installing it switch to Greek as input source and select "New from Current Input Source". 

    Map the Ϗ and ϗ to your preferred key combination (there are a few unused in the Greek Monotonic), give it a nice name, make sure the language and script is correct, and save it to /Library/Keyboard Layouts.

    From the Keyboard Preferences you can then select the new Input Source and choose your custom Greek keyboard.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 828
    Aside from Unicode rules frowning on mapping one character to another, did we not see in this thread that native speakers of Greek tend to use the ampersand instead of the kai symbol? Wouldn't they be startled at typing an ampersand and having a kai come out?
    Of course, that depends; if they're only typing an ampersand because kai is unavailable, that might be desired, but so far in this thread no evidence of that has been advanced - except for the fact that since the kai symbol is common in signage, it's unlikely that many Greeks haven't heard of it.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    edited February 10
    But it would be no different than, say, Bulgarian Cyrillic <locl> substituting д by (something that looks like Latin) g.

    I don’t think it is remotely like that. The cursive д that is similar in shape to the Latin g is unambiguously a д character to any Cyrillic reader—including non-Bulgarians—who encounters it in Cyrillic text. The fact that it looks like a letter that is a different character in another script is irrelevant.

    What you are proposing for kai is more akin to using the Latin letter g character in the Cyrillic text, and then using a GSUB feature to make it look like д for people who prefer that form. The Greek character ϗ is not the ampersand character &. If someone wants the ϗ character in text, they should have access to that character and not be presented with a different character in a disguise that will be lost when the text is changed to another font.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    edited February 10
    Yes, I was mistaken about Bulgarian.
    I’ll try another tack in pursuing the legitimacy of George’s <locl> plan.
     The Greek character ϗ is not the ampersand character &.
    Not in terms of Unicode, but linguistically they are functionally identical.
    Rather like the way that some words are adopted into one language from another as loan words, & has become part of the Greek writing system as a loan character. It is a symbol that is read (out loud, as the case may be) as καὶ, just as ϗ is.

    So, two Unicode characters represent the same writing system character.
    Unusual, but not without precedent.
    Notably the symbols <quotesingle> and <quoteright>.
    Don’t get me started on “smart” quotes, the comparison breaks down quickly, I only mention this to show that symbol duplication can occur within Unicode.
    If someone wants the ϗ character in text, they should have access to that character and not be presented with a different character in a disguise that will be lost when the text is changed to another font.
    If they want ϗ, then they may conveniently use George’s font with the <locl> GSUB.
    (If they also want it to port to another font, they should use uni03D7—if they can find it.)
    The set text does not change with the <locl> feature, whatever the direction: 
    sub ampersand by ampersand.kai.
    sub uni03D7 by uni03D7.ampersand.
    Would a change in appearance from that of one Unicode character to that of another really matter? Readers are still presented with a glyph and character that is linguistically correct. Certainly, this messy language issue is a paradox and an anomaly within Unicode, but the <locl> GSUB satisfies orthography and, concerning aesthetics and ideology, falls within the authorship of the font designer.
    Let’s deal with the issue by handling it straightforward and simple and proper, instead of making it over-complex and complicated so that it will never meet the requirements of ordinary people in normal life.
    I would say that the simplest way to deal with paradox is to accept it—let ordinary people confront and deal with the mysteries of their writing system, just as they accept σ and ς, and Latin users accept two forms of g, and let typographers decide whether they want to use a font that “Greeks” the ampersand.
  • Florian PircherFlorian Pircher Posts: 54
    edited February 10
    Does the change in appearance from that of one Unicode character to that of another really matter?
    What if a Greek typographer/author/user wants to typeset a real ampersand, not a symbol representing “and”. Substituting & by ϗ might not change the semantics of the text in a simple list or a joined pair of words, but in technical typesetting, academic use, or brand names the & might have a specialized meaning and therefore be the only acceptable form.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    edited February 10
    In that case, the typographer would not use a font that subbed & by ϗ, but choose another font overall, or switch for the one character.
    But how often would that occur, other than in programming with a specialized monowidth font?

    e.g. ATϗT — foreign branch-plant corporations might quite like exhibiting a bit of locl colour.
  • You could make the substitution contextual, only between Greek Letter/space/ampersand/space/Greek Letter and Greek Letter/ampersand/Greek Letter. 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    edited February 11
    Not in terms of Unicode, but linguistically they are functionally identical.
    So? One can easily make the same claim about the common ampersand & and the Tironian et ⁊: they are both abbreviated signs for the Latin conjunction, the one adopted into English and a bunch of other languages, and the other adopted into Irish, and serving exactly the same purpose in all these languages except when we encounter Irish documents that use both & and ⁊, then what is arguably semantically the same thing has to be recognised as textually distinct. Unicode is a text encoding standard, and fonts are text display machines. Semantics and other aspects of linguistics really don’t enter into encoding and displaying text.

  • And, of course, your point centers on the fact that the Tironian et could be easily confused with the Arabic numeral 7.
  • And, of course, your point centers on the fact that the Tironian et could be easily confused with the Arabic numeral 7.
    not quite so. The context in which this char. usually appears causes very little danger for such a confusion. The visual likeness does actually not matter.

  • Florian PircherFlorian Pircher Posts: 54
    edited February 11
    But how often would that occur, other than in programming with a specialized monowidth font?
    As an example, the & might appear next to a Greek letter in an URL:
    https://el.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Κάππα&oldid=7870676

    If this URL was printed (e.g. as a citation) and the font swapped the & with a ϗ, now the URL is invalid if someone were to type it on their own computer. The typographer might not even notice that the form is invalid, pasting the URL into the document/citation software instead of typing it character by character. 
  • This survey is great, Kostas.
    So people actually are aware of the Ϗ, and use it.
    The shortcoming is (once again) the keyboard layout, more or less. Manufacturers should be approached to provide new keyboards with the Ϗ accessible and visible similar like € or @. This is easy. And a reformed keyboard driver is required as well, but that is easy, too.
    But we typomaniacs shall also have a look on ourselves.
    Would you care to do a similar survey among font producers who make Greek fonts: do you include this char. in your fonts y/n ?


  • Andreas, I think your conclusion is a little misleading.

    How can 75% use an abbreviation (q1) but ~93% don't know how to type it or where to find it on a keyboard (q4, q5). Don't you think this is a little contradictory?

    The problem I believe is on the first question where the word “writing” should have been “typing” (as in the last question). There are people over 50yo that maybe use an abbreviation when they write (but who writes anymore...) but there are fewer to no people under 50 that use it when they write (and they never write anything).

    But I think it's not relevant to our discussion who uses an abbreviation when “writing” but only when “typing”. So I think that Kostas's survey is only partially useful and true (mainly its last 3 questions).

    So, no, I don't think that people are aware of it and (even less) use it. I can't remember an actual use of it on any contemporary book cover, book text, brand identity or other design application whatsoever. And I am 40, working with graphic and type design the past 15 years, read a lot and I am interested in stuff like that so do notice them a lot. Can I be that wrong?

    I point this out because I think that it's important to have a clear view of the actual state of things to suggest and test any technical solution to this problem (if the numbers allow us to consider it a problem). For example, I understand that changing a keyboard would be the best solution, however if you have only 100 people (literally) in Greece and even less all over the world that would use a symbol, this would be a little difficult to achieve (and prove that it matters) so perhaps, other, less ideal solutions could/should be pursued (for the few who care, at least until things change in the future, if they ever do...)
  • George, the question of writing is very important as it indicates a familiarity with a form as well as the reasoning for a digital presence of the it. That was the whole purpose of including it and that is why the survey starts with this one. As for typing it, the question comes after that and you can see that only 7% knows how to type it. The last question indicates that some people may not know how to type it but perhaps they copy paste it when/if they need it.

    I honestly don't know where you get the data to support that under 50's don't use it when writing. I know for sure that there was no age limit in the survey. I didn't want to jump to superficial assumptions and that's why I ran the survey (actually it is still running and at 100 participants currently the data has not changed). I hypothesised that with "και" being one of the most common greek words it makes perfect sense that in writing (slow as well as fast annotating style) the majority will come to use some abbreviated form - and yes, 75% does so.

    I think you are wrong in isolating the "use" to a digital form. I believe the survey proves that it is an issue of unfamiliarity not with the form itself but with the access to it:
    - People are unaware that there exists a typographic form (typographic form being a more crystallised suggestive interpretation of the written forms)
    - People are unaware that fonts may include this form
    - People are unaware how to type this form

    If you want to "bring it back" the questions that arise are the following:
    - How can you educate the users about its typographic existence
    - How can you make it accessible to users


  • Kostas I understand what you are saying. I don't have the data to support my point about the age limit, of course. It's an arbitrary threshold (based on the education I received vs. the education perhaps our parents received) and one that is only based on personal experience and understanding.

    I wouldn't go as far though as saying that the survey proves the opposite. If you don't include questions about the participants age, education, work experience/field, etc. you cannot be sure that people are familiar or are not familiar with anything (who are these “people”? I think that this is as arbitrary as my age threshold.)

    I think a survey is a great start and it's good you initiated it, but I think that it should be done in a more detailed way (regarding the participants background and making a clear distinction between writing and typing ― which I still believe are two, maybe interconnected, but different things when it comes to searching for technical solutions).
  • This was a on-the-fly survey. It is not by any means trying to find causality. Just evaluate a current state in a quick way. My intention was not to make it lengthy, knowing how much I personally hate long surveys. 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    Most computer users of major languages with official status, like Greek, use the keyboard layouts and drivers that are provided with their operating system. That seems convenient, but like many conveniences, it involves limitations and lack of control. I sometimes think the users working in minority languages without official status, without national or industrial keyboard standards, whose languages are not conveniently supported at the operating system level, have it better in some respects: they are obliged to make use of custom keyboards, which moves them into the territory of brilliant things like Keyman, not only more flexible than the one-size-fits-all keyboards of the OS, but also more powerful.

    So, how best to address the keyboarding issue for the Greek kai symbol? These are the options:

    1. Encourage Greek users to install and use the OS polytonic keyboard instead of the monotonic one. Pros: most of the typing will be the same, and this is already available and just as convenient. Cons: requires communicating with users and convincing them to switch keyboards just to access this one character.

    2. Contact Microsoft, Apple, and other platform developers and ask them to add the kai sign to all their Greek keyboards. This should be done in any case, and I know who to contact at Microsoft and Apple, so will do that.

    3. Develop custom keyboard drivers that users can download and install. This can be done in multiple formats, e.g. Ukulele and MSKLC format for Mac and Windows, respectively, Keyman, as well as iOS and Android. That may sound like a lot of work and more complexity and less convenience for users, but it can also be a way to focus attention on the kai sign, its history, forms, examples of use. So, for example, there could be a website at e.g. kai.gr with bilingual text promoting use of the kai sign, along with explanations how to access it in OS and custom keyboards, easy download and installation of custom keyboards, etc.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    Nonetheless, George’s proposed <locl> & to Ϗ substitution would be a brilliant piece of decolonization font activism. Any backlash would only serve to publicize the issue—and promote those new keyboards from Microsoft and Apple.

    **

    And John, while you’re at it, could we also please have keys for curly quotes, so that we don’t have to endure the awfulness of “smart quotes” quite so much?
  • Florian PircherFlorian Pircher Posts: 54
    edited February 12
    And John, while you’re at it, could we also please have keys for curly quotes, so that we don’t have to endure the awfulness of “smart quotes” quite so much?
    On the Mac you have ⌥2 and ⌥⇧2 for “ and ” (as well as ⌥^ and ⌥⇧^ on German keyboards for „ and “). There are also keyboard commands for ‹…› & «…» & ‘…’ & ‚…‘.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,128
    I’ve written to Microsoft and Apple. If anyone is on Windows 10 and wants to submit a bug against the Greek keyboard to request addition of 

    03CF Ϗ GREEK CAPITAL KAI SYMBOL
    03D7 ϗ GREEK KAI SYMBOL

    you can do so through the Feedback Hub. I encourage this, because dev teams will need a bug ticket to generate a work item for this sort of addition, and the more people who submit bug reports the more likely that action will be taken.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,720
    Florian, keyboard “shortcuts” are not the same as having a designated key.

    **

    Looking at my Mac keyboard now, I note that while it represents upright (roman) characters, the quote marks are angled and of even thickness. But very few fonts actually follow that scheme. 
  • Florian, keyboard “shortcuts” are not the same as having a designated key.
    The non-smart quotes also don’t have a designated key, they are ⇧2 on my keyboard. ⌥2 is the same number of keystrokes. Of course, you need two symbols – opening and closing – so the closing symbol is one key more with ⌥⇧2.
  • Looking at my Mac keyboard now, I note that while it represents upright (roman) characters, the quote marks are angled and of even thickness. But very few fonts actually follow that scheme. 
    This is true. Quadraat Sans Mono is one of those few fonts. I use it for my text editor to bring at least a hint of typographic style into the otherwise dull quotes required by the many programming languages.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 828
    edited February 13
    How can 75% use an abbreviation (q1) but ~93% don't know how to type it or where to find it on a keyboard (q4, q5). Don't you think this is a little contradictory?

    Absolutely not at all. In addition to computers and smartphones, the people of Greece still also have available to them pen and paper. And that could be the only place where they use the kai symbol, if they don't belong to the 7% who can find it on a keyboard.

    So, how best to address the keyboarding issue for the Greek kai symbol? These are the options:

    Although your options are well-thought out, I still have some comments.
    In a way, your third option is wonderful for those who can take it, but I have my doubts about the number of Greek computer users who would take the trouble - and risk - of installing custom software on their computers for this purpose.
    Your first option addresses the issue in a simple and direct fashion. As the polytonic keyboard is not widely used, though, apparently there is limited use for it otherwise. As well, from some things I have read, it is possible that writing modern Greek in polytonic style has unfortunate associations with the military junta that ruled Greece during 1967-74.
    As for your second option, I have a very specific comment.
    If I were at Microsoft, and I get a communication that says "I am a computer programmer or type designer, and I think it would be neat if your Greek monotonic keyboard had the kai symbol", I think it would go straight into the trash.
    The people who should be following your second option - and could do so with some effect - are native speakers of Greek resident in Greece. They're the ones whose preferences in Greek keyboards will affect the sales of Microsoft, Apple, and Google/Alphabet products.
    I know these are quibbles, but I hope they may point towards a more effective strategy to achieve the goal.
  • edited February 13
    Absolutely not at all. In addition to computers and smartphones, the people of Greece still also have available to them pen and paper. And that could be the only place where they use the kai symbol, if they don't belong to the 7% who can find it on a keyboard.
    We agree on that, this is exactly what I say in the second paragraph after the one you refer to, and this is why I think basing any assumptions on the survey is problematic:
    The problem I believe is on the first question where the word “writing” should have been “typing” (as in the last question). There are people over 50yo that maybe use an abbreviation when they write (but who writes anymore...) but there are fewer to no people under 50 that use it when they write (and they never write anything).

    But I think it's not relevant to our discussion who uses an abbreviation when “writing” but only when “typing”. So I think that Kostas's survey is only partially useful and true (mainly its last 3 questions).
    Also, regarding polytonic Greek and a relevant keyboard, I think we have to be realistic here. I don't think it has to do anything with the military junta (polytonic Greek was not introduced by the junta, nor did it die because of the fall of the junta ― it died almost a decade after that) but with the fact that it hasn't been taught for 40 years now and there is no chance of ever returning back to it. Making things even harder for designers and users of typefaces is definitely not the way to go.
  • @John Hudson, thank you for acting on this. Wouldn’t it be also neccessary to approach some keyboard standardization body which coordinates between several producers of hardware?
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