RE: Latvian palatalised consonants

From: Lucans, Gunars (
Date: Wed Oct 18 2000 - 11:59:02 EDT

> From:
> On Tue, 17 Oct 2000, Herman Ranes wrote:
> > Is the use of the existing precomposed characters in the Latin
> > Extended-A block considered 'right' for encoding Latvian palatal
> > consonants, or is it considered 'wrong' so that I will have to use
> > composites with U+0326 'Combining comma below' in stead?
> >
> > I am aware that many use those percomposed cedilla-characters, but
> > nevertheless it does not look Latvian to me...
> >
> > Romanian did get its precomposed letters - can one expect any
> > precendence with regard to Latvian?
> ...
> What is the official position on the nature of the diacritic mark
> we're discussing, in Latvia? Inofficial documents, like
> seem to call it "cedilla" - and display glyphs where it is clearly
> comma-like in appearance.

In Latvian, the diacritic mark on the palatalized consonants G, K, L, N and
R is called a "mikstinajuma zime" or "softening mark". Its correct shape is
similar to a comma, not hook-like as in the cedilla. Another unofficial
reference with glyph images can be found at

In 1991, Latvia joined the ISO standardization effort with Imants Metra
chairing the Latvian working group. The resulting codepage, coordinated
after heated debate among the Baltic countries and INSTA/IT, was approved in
1992 as Latvian national standard LVS-8-92-1. This Baltic Rim codepage was
subsequently registered by Microsoft as cp1257. Unfortunately, the term
chosen for the palatalized consonants was "cedilla". Imants Metra has said:
"the term 'comma' was rejected so as not to confuse it with the normal
punctuation mark". I've also heard that there was strong pressure from
various vendors attending the meetings (MS, IBM and Novell) not to introduce
a new term for this diacritic mark. I think Adobe's commaaccent would have
been a much better choice.

Gunars Lucans

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