29 April 2011

The Unicode and Other Mythical Beasts

I want to write something but nothing comes. A sense of impending doom overwhelms me—like the “Eli’s Coming” episode of Sports Night. Does it mean something? It never does. Random synapses firing or something (and I’m sure the smartass college students who room here would set me straight on what a synapse is). My days are eaten up with trivia as I try to get moved in to my new computer; I’m back to obsessively searching for my perfect font. The Latin characters (used for English and French) should look reasonably decent, since they’re what I normally write in. But I have to have all the Greek characters (accents and breathings, right?), the Coptic characters, and the goddamn standard symbols for the days of the week—the symbol for today being ♀. It’s surprising how few fonts have all the Greek characters, given that classical scholarship is hardly dead yet. And fewer still have the Coptic, which is perhaps not surprising, but, you know, the language is in liturgical use. A number of fonts have the astrological symbols—of which the ones I need are a subset—but those never seem to have the complete Greek collection. So once again I end up switching from font to font, using one for Greek, one for English and French, and still another for the various symbols. Does this make sense?

And why on earth does the Unicode have room for chess symbols, and dominos, but not for the standard weather symbols used by meteorologists? Do these reflect real priorities? If space can be allotted for Shavian script, why not for Tengwar? I bet more people write the latter than the former (though for me it’s the other way around). And why are the Coptic symbols split up, while Greek gets not one, but two sets of letters with acute accents? Do we really need so many spaces reserved for stars and snowflakes?

And why is it that the more complete a font is, the more likely it is to have inelegant-looking Latin characters? Is this some kind of political statement?

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