Gothic in web pages

Gothic has been written in particularly three scripts (fuþarks or, as some call them, alphabets) — the Elder Fuþark, Wulfilan Script and (today) Latin. Of these, Latin has the best support on Internet-connected devices; indeed you are reading this in Latin script. The Latin alphabet, however, does not match the sounds or characters of Gothic speech so the Latin transcription has added two special characters: þ (thorn) and ƕ (hwair).

In 1999, the Elder Fuþark was included in the Unicode standard so that it is available to most Internet surfers by downloading and installing a font. The runes are scattered across the range 16A0–16FF.

In 2001 Wulfilan script was included. It has numbers 10330-1034A.

With more and more devices supporting Unicode better and better, it is time to ask the question: Is it time to switch back from Latin script to Wulfilan? If not, Latin will certainly stick and cause usage of the special characters to once again disappear from a nascent reconstructed Gothic as it did from Germanic languages in the Dark Ages. But if the switch should happen completely, it may present beginners with a brick-wall of boxes or invisible text, rather than a learning curve, ever so steep.

A solution which tries to both eat a cookie and save it for later, uses Wulfilan script for upper-case except when the Wulfilan character is problematic due to confusion with a Latin character of different value or when the corresponding Latin character is so similar that it does not matter which one is used. For lower case, it uses the Latin transcription which is already in wide use. Upper case letters aren’t used that often in a text, so they can usually be figured out if they do not show properly. An additional simplification is to take the Gothic character which is shaped like a Y, and which is pronounced either w or like a german ü (Nordic and Koine Greek Y) and let it map to y. This frees w, which can be used to represent the hw-sound of ƕ.

The proposal is exemplified in this PDF: Gothic-script-draft



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