[sword-devel] Hyphens in book names

Jonathan Marsden jmarsden at fastmail.fm
Wed Sep 29 17:32:12 MST 2010

All the Filipino languages I came across when I was living there
consistently used a Spanish-derived orthography, and I don't remember
any of them treating "-" as a letter.  Of course, I didn't deal with the
huge majority of the little tribal languages out there!

On 9/29/2010 2:28 PM, Robert Hunt wrote:

> Even in English, hyphen is a valid letter as you can see in the
> sentence above.

Really?  As far as I know, all English-based (POSIX) locale definitions
consider the hyphen to be punctuation, like the comma, full stop,
question mark, quotation marks, and so on... these are not letters.  I
used parentheses, commas and an ellipsis in the previous sentence --
does that make them letters too?

Can you provide a pointer to an English grammar definition or tutorial
that states that the hyphen is a letter in English?  Do English children
reciting their alphabet phonetically include the letter "-" ?  If so,
how do they pronounce it?  Note: I am English, and I am very sure that
there was no hyphen in the English alphabet when I was younger :)

"The sentence above" was:

>> Perhaps allowing each locale to define its own numerals and
>> hyphen-like character would be a good solution?

Rewriting this without the hyphen gets us:

  Perhaps allowing each locale to define its own numerals and
  hyphenlike character would be a good solution?

which looks pretty readable to me.  How does this sentence demonstrate
that "-" is a letter in English?

To determine how often the issue of hyphen actually being "a letter" has
occurred before, you might want to search the CLDR data from
http://cldr.unicode.org/ to find such locales.  Are there any (POSIX)
locale definitions for which

  python -c 'print "-".isalpha()'

returns True ?

Have the folks in the Philippines defined a POSIX locale for the
language they are working with (so that native speakers of it can use
computers 'in' that language and have wordwrap, spelling checkers, etc.
work more or less as expected)?  If so, in that locale, is the hyphen
considered an "alpha" character, that is, part of the alphabet?  Is
there a different (punctuation) symbol that is used to connect words or
syllables in a similar way to how we use hyphens in English, or to
connect numbers representing the beginning and end of a range?

I suspect that including a 'range specifier' character in SWORD locales,
which defaults to "-" if not specified, would be a reasonable way
forward with this issue.  But that would need a new release of SWORD,
and probably new releases of Xiphos and BibleTime, before it is of
practical use to the folks in the Philippines.

Lastly, and just out of curiosity, when kids recite the alphabet
phonetically in this language in the Philippines, what sound do they
emit when they reach the letter "-" ? :)  [If they do not include it,
then is it *truly* being considered a letter (part of the alphabet) in
this language?  Or is it in fact some sort of modifier?].


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