Is Dutch ij ligature "atomic?"

anonymous's picture

I have a question for experts in Dutch language typography:

Is the "ij" ligature (x0133 Unicode) an atomic element considered linguistically distinct from the sequence i-j (as "ae" is in Icelandic, I think), or is it simply a typographic ligature (as are the "fi" and "fl" we know so well in English)?

Thanks,
Brent

John Hudson's picture

Yes, it is atomic. When letterspaced, it should appear as in R IJ N N, and when set vertically as in

R
IJ
N
N

hrant's picture

Let me ask a somewhat related question:
I've read (I don't remember where) that Dutch can mark syllable inflection through the use of the acute accent (sort of like italics for emphasis, but for single vowels). Is this true? If so, why is it not used much? And would it mean we'd need to have a "j-acute"?! (If the "ij" is indeed atomic.)

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I'm not sure whether the ij gets an acute on both the i and j, or a single acute optically centered above them.

porky's picture

This is a really interesting debate. During my Dutch lessons, my tutor (from den Haag) always told me to write

peter bilak's picture

John, when using ij, both i and j get an acute. in a word like jij, there *could* be three acuted in raw.

porky's picture

Hrant, that is just how I was taught to do it, and there is something very satisfying about writing it. But then I'm not Dutch. Do you know of where I could see a sample of Pascal with the ij lig?

hrant's picture

Pascal groupie at your service:

Pascal12
That's the 12 point, btw.
From Erik Lindegren's "ABC of lettering and printing typefaces". (The single-volume '82 edition.)

hhp

anonymous's picture

Thanks for the response -- I dug bit more, and Wikipedia says you are correct. So, I learned something new: "IJ" is a vowel sometimes called a "long y."

anonymous's picture

see http://rudhar.com/lingtics/nlij_en.htm for a discussion. The status of this letter is not well described.

I'd like to add that the main reason I see why it is not much used, is because most type writers (and most computer keyboards) do not support it or through a difficult key sequence. Neither the upper case nor the lower case character is present in iso-8859-1, the character set we're supposed to be happy with in the Netherlands :-)

Most people simply type ij, but this poses a problem in sorting.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'm not a Dutch expert, but I've been told that yes, it's a real character (like ae and oe) rather than a typographic nicety (like fi and fl).

T

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