Re: Greek accentuation marks

From: Constantine Stathopoulos (
Date: Thu Oct 15 1998 - 15:23:05 EDT

At 09:58 рм 15/10/1998 -0700, Kenneth Whistle wrote:

>There is also a reasonable distinction to be made between >oxia and tonos, in any case, since the oxia is generally >rendered as an acute accent in polytonic Greek, whereas the >tonos accent is generally rendered with a vertical line >above in monotonic Greek. Implementations which make use of >combining marks will generally distinguish these two, even >if they are grammatically connected.

Thank you very much for your reply.

I am sorry to say that the above distinction does not exist in the Greek language. With due respect to the linguists and Greek-speaking people in this mailing list, I must explain that the word "TONOS" simply means "stress" or "accentuation mark", and is a generic name for "OXIA" (U+1FFD), "VARIA" (U+1FEF) and "PERISPOMENI" (U+11FC0). In fact, in everyday talk when the meaning of "TONOS" is narrowed to denote a specific accentuation mark, this mark is "OXIA", as in the phrase "Phre deka me tono" (meaning "he scored ten with a tonos"), which eloquently describes " 10' ", the old equivalent of A+ in the Greek educational system.

Yet, there is a far more substantial argument than that: in the official rules of the monotonic system introduced by an Act of the Greek Parliament in 1982, it is clearly stated and I quote: "Ws toniko shmadi xrhsimopoieitai h oxeia", which can be strictly translated as: "Oxia is used as the accentuation mark". Those rules have not been modified since 1982 and can still be found in the latest edition of the official grammar used in Greek schools.

Of course, artistic variations are present in certain fonts: in some of them TONOS/OXIA is pictured as a little triangle, and [very rarely] as a vertical line or a dot. However, in almost all fonts designed in the early days of the Unicode Standard, TONOS/OXIA appears as it has always been: a diagonal line similar to acute (see MS Windows 95 system font, Times New Roman, Arial and Courier). And it is my understanding that it has begun to appear as "a vertical line above" only after it was mapped to U+030D and only from non-Greek font vendors.

I do not know why ELOT has insisted on the total distinction of characters used in monotonic from those used in the polytonic system, but it is of no interest here; what is important is that a Greek user will always expect OXIA to be used as the accentuation mark (TONOS), even if it has to be looked for in the Greek Extended block. Of course, that will soon result in serious compatibility problems.

Best Regards,
Constantine Stathopoulos,
Iris Media Internet Solutions.

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