Date: 1997-08-10

Title: Proposal to add the letter MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE in the BMP

Source: Michael Everson (IE), Tapani Salminen (FI), Trond Trosterud (NO)
Status: Expert Contribution
Action: For consideration by JTC1/SC2/WG2

This document contains the proposal summary (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 form N1352) and a full proposal for the encoding of one new character in ISO/IEC 10646.

A. Administrative

, Tapani Salminen, Trond Trosterud
1. TitleProposal to add the letter MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE to the UCS
2. Requester's nameMichael Everson
3. Requester typeExpert contribution
4. Submission date1997-08-10
5. Requester's reference 
6a. CompletionThis is a complete proposal.
6b. More information to be provided?No

B. Technical -- General

1a. New script? Name?No
1b. Addition of characters to existing block? Name?Yes, to the block Spacing Modifier Letters
2. Number of characters1
3. Proposed categoryCategory A
4. Proposed level of implementation and rationaleLevel 1
5a. Character names included in proposal?Yes
5b. Character names in accordance with guidelines?Yes
5c. Character shapes reviewable?Yes
6a. Who will provide computerized font?Michael Everson
6b. Font currently available?Michael Everson
6c. Font format?TrueType
7a. Are references (to other character sets, dictionaries, descriptive texts, etc.) provided?Yes
7b. Are published examples (such as samples from newspapers, magazines, or other sources) of use of proposed characters attached?Yes
8. Does the proposal address other aspects of character data processing?No

C. Technical -- Justification

1. Has this proposal been submitted before?No
2. Contact with the user community?Yes, with the institutions producing Nenets books and educating Nenets teachers.
3. Information on the user community?All Nenets speakers, appr. 27,000 according to the 1989 census, and the scholarly community worldwide
4a. The context of use for the proposed characters?Used to write Nenets
4b. ReferenceTereshchenko 1965, 1973, 1990
5a. Proposed characters in current use?Yes, by all users of literary Nenets
5b. Where?In Russia, to a certain extent in the Nordic countries, and by the scholarly community worldwide.
6a. Characters should be encoded entirely in BMP?Yes
6b. RationaleFull coverage for one of the most central non-Slavonic languages of Northern Russia
7. Should characters be kept in a continuous range?N/A
8a. Can the characters be considered a presentation form of an existing character or character sequence? No
8b. Where? 
8c. Reference 
9a. Can any of the characters be considered to be similar (in appearance or function) to an existing character?No
9b. Where? 
9c. Reference 
10a. Combining characters or use of composite sequences included?No
10b. List of composite sequences and their corresponding glyph images provided?No
11. Characters with any special properties such as control function, etc. included?No

D. SC2/WG2 Administrative

To be completed by SC2/WG2

1. Relevant SC 2/WG 2 document numbers: 
2. Status (list of meeting number and corresponding action or disposition) 
3. Additional contact to user communities, liaison organizations etc. 
4. Assigned category and assigned priority/time frame 
Other Comments 

E. Proposal

Proposal to add the letter MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE to BMP of ISO/IEC 10646-1

Nenets has two glottal stops. In its official orthography it writes one of these with MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE (U+02BC) and the other with MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE, which is not in the UCS. It is hereby proposed to include MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE in the UCS as well.

In Nenets orthography (a Northern Samoyedic language spoken in a vast area in European Russia and in Northern Siberia) there are two glottal stop symbols, usually referred to as nasalizable and non-nasalizable respectively. When Nenets orthography was changed from Latinate to Cyrillic after 1937, there was a period where both glottal stops were written as MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE (cf. Pyrerka & Tereshchenko 1948). Then, from 1956 onwards, the present-day distinction was introduced, and since then all Nenets publications have distinguished between the two.

NOTE: As shown by Janhunen 1985 (the most thorough study on the subject), the glottal stops are not distinct phonetically (except possibly as a hypercorrect form among educated speakers). Both prerevolutionary scientific texts (such as Lehtisalo 1958, geared towards phonetic accuracy) and the Latinate orthography of the 1930s cite only one glottal stop. But it is certainly possible to distinguish between two glottal stops morphophonologically. Morphophonologically, the glottal stop corresponding to SINGLE APOSTROPHE (called nasalizable glottal stop) alternates with n and j, whereas the one corresponding to DOUBLE APOSTROPHE (called non-nasalizable glottal stop) alternates with s and d. Historically, several distinct sounds (t, s, c, k, n, h) have in certain positions developed into what phonetically is one glottal stop. In the course of derivation and inflection the glottal stop alternates with the sounds it is historically related to, and it is this alternation that is reflected in the orthography.

The Soviet sources upon which the initial work behind the UCS were based may go back to the orthography from the short post-war period. In any case the omission of the MODIFIER LETTER DOUBLE APOSTROPHE should be corrected.

An alternative solution would be to treat the DOUBLE APOSTROPHE as a digraph: simply as a sequence of two MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHEs in a row. There are several reasons why this should not be done, though:

This letter is of very high frequency in Nenets. Some sentences at random from Tereshchenko 1965:

'The Nenets live throughout the tundra'

xad' xa
'After the blizzard had begun, I started going to the front'

The most telling thing typographically is easily seen in a monowidth font.

Name and glyph


Sample text

sample nenets



Barmich, M. Ja. & Z. N.Kuprijanova 1979. Praktikum po neneckomu jazyku. Leningrad.

Janhunen, J. 1986. Glottal stop in Nenets. (Mémoires de la Société Finno-ougrienne 196), Helsinki.

Kuprijanova, Z. N., M. Ja.Barmich & L. V.Khomich 1985 [1977]. Neneckij jazyk. Leningrad.

Lehtisalo, T. 1947. Juraksamojedische Volksdichtung. (Mémoires de la Société Finno-ougrienne 90). Helsinki.

Lehtisalo, T. 1956. Juraksamojedisches Wörterbuch. (Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae 13), Helsinki.

Prokof'jev, G. N. 1936: Samouchitel' neneckogo jazyka. Moskva & Leningrad.

Pyrerka, A. P. & N. M. Tereshchenko 1948. Nenetsko-russkij slovar'. Moskva.

Salminen, T. 1990. "Samoyedology in Finland 1985-1989: the glottal stop", in Problems of Uralistics I, Moscow: Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences, USSR Academy of Sciences, 216-237.

Tereshchenko, N. M. 1947. Ocherk grammatiki neneckogo jazyka. Leningrad.

Tereshchenko, N. M. 1956. Materialy i issledovanija po jazyku nencev. Leningrad.

Tereshchenko, N. M. 1965. Nenecko-russkij slovar'. Moskva.

Tereshchenko, N. M. 1973. Sintaksis samodijskikh jazykov. Leningrad.

Tereshchenko, N. M. 1990. Neneckij epos, Leningrad: Nauka.

Michael Everson,, Dublin, 1997-08-10