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Keyboarding expression bomb using today’s grammar mechanics

November 25, 2012

Just take a simple look at the various language mechanic marks on your keypad and wonder for a moment why the letter “a” could have well over a dozen representations using the exact form of “a” — albeit with certain modifications. For example:

ä – â – å – à

You may even want a single dot over the top and can’t find it. Or you may want to coin your own “a.” There could be as many as a hundred a’s that may fit any particular purpose, possibly more.

As it so happens, the gist of the matter were that you can’t always produce the type of punctuation or alphanumeric character that you want or need to see on your screen for any particular document, comment or critique.

PC: Ease of use and virtually unlimited option for punctual expression

The basic concept of the letter, or keyboard character, with the dawn of the PC was that of an ASCII character that could be expressed in any style whatsoever — using a font set or font style.

Such ideas as boldface, italics, and outline characters presented some kind of problem — where otherwise color, or perhaps even size, amounted to nothing more than modified fonts. Eventually font styles came along, perhaps as many as four different font styles to serve all the types of markup that were desired for one font of expression, such as with the Courier font:  Courier, Courier Bold, Courier Italic, Courier Outline (for example).

Unicode is another matter entirely, not so much concerned with font style nor type but rather with seeing that any specific character no matter how obscure can be expressed in methodological fashion, such as by typing //;3A17 when producing an HTML-markup document. Unicode helps address the problem of getting characters “right” so that they can be used at all.

When it comes to producing the right character or punctuation so specifically — there are so many possibilities that Unicode is not headed in the proper direction for and that won’t ever be available in any font if the present were somehow to get snagged on an inertial dampener and start to bead into the dirt on its way to losing its absolute velocity.

But the base question with text markup (style & font) and usability seems much more practically that of need for more immediate capacity, as such concern any necessary characters that make your expression, your work, what you are trying to convey to your reader because you have something to show … complete.


Typical “markup” is nothing other than customized, RAM-paralleled, custom-fabricated correspondence to pre-existing ROM-etched ASCII character correspondence.

In other words, a font set matches the limitations for ASCII characters and its individual components get their counterpart associations in memory, 0 to 127. Multiple font sets can exist simultaneously. ASCII positions 32 – 126 generally happen to be most relevant — 94 characters that contain visible keyboard characters worth emulating in any font. Bold, outline, italic versions of these fonts would be treated as one or as multiple fonts, depending solely on integration with existing operating system limitations.

Thus, a dazzling number of unique characters rather translate into multiple instances of re-pointing one set of ASCII characters to more than one font used for markup purposes. Not even HTML short-circuits the need for the same number of characters for the same number of markup results. Of course, in the past there were certain attempts to convert a font set into an engineered style of bold/italic/plain with the “brute force” method of mathematic expression. However — you’ll never break out of the fact that style were artistic rather than formulaic. That’s why the method never quite panned out and also why the majority of text seen today, from any published source derived, usually comes from a font set, style added, that has been subjected to mouse & pixel-by-pixel perfection.

Given 128 programmer-useful ASCII character positions in ROM, most relevant become the necessary letters and numbers reserved for their respective positions. Calling for more positions to be reserved for “markup zone” modifications requires use of  “extended ASCII,” currently a perverse, non-standard, global array of languishing bitmapped-character notions.

Sacred goes the art and practice of writing

Our problem thus far can be expressed in one other important way:  Using a computer isn’t even close to using a typewriter. Sure, there might be a way.

But sometimes you just want to re-insert the printed page upside-down into the typewriter, adjust the platen, space on over to one or more specific characters and insert the most basic of marks into the document for a more specific and refined sort of legibility.

Using the markup zone

A markup zone wouldn’t really affect the individual characters on a standard American keyboard that lacks diacritical marks and such, as such would be assigned values by the UI that translates hardware action into data. There are typically three markup zones that emanate from a central location around an letter or number. First, there’s the script zone that hosts the letter. Next you have the superscript zone. And then lastly there’s the subscript zone. These positions are purely relative to each other rather than absolute in the sense of trigonometry and circles. But the idea of three remains the same.  Looking at even the weirdest of characters, such as “‰,” the per mille, it’s clear that the main character consists of a / with a superscript ° and a subscript ∞ (unavailable to find). Add a fourth zone in the middle, where infinity situates, and you have these:

  1. center, or script zone (no emanation)
  2. superscript zone
  3. subscript zone
  4. middle zone

The markup zone — refined

Now I’m sure than if any typesetters that be could have their way then they’d want to simplify the basic process rather than expect custom fonts for everything under the kearning sun.

And so, the solution appears clear as new need for what would be called a positional alphanumeric mark-set.

The idea were that our base positions look like:


y    x-middlescript


But we rather need:

x0-super       x1-super      x2-super

x0-middle   y0-center   x2-middle

x0-sub            x1-sub           x2-sub

It can also be done this way:

Put that “a” anywhere

x0-super      x1-super     x2-super

x0-middle   x1-center   x2-middle

x0-sub           x1-sub          x2-sub

… and …

Superimpose any marks over that “a”

y0-super      y1-super        y2-super

y0-middle   y1-middle    y2-middle

y0-sub           y1-sub             y2-sub

… thus providing for superimposing characters, as needed, for such characters as strike-thru and in the case of the interrobang … such that the final rendering looks like 9 positional marks including superimposure over the actual character using one ASCII and one positional character. Or, using two areas of memory reserved for one character anywhere using one portion of memory and any number of positional characters anywhere in the 9 positions, plus an additional character that may or may not superimpose and 9 marks that are superimposed by definition.

Phrased in that way, what makes a whole lot more sense would be to use the “positional character” as any character that lacks an implicit ASCII “space.” That thus renders the necessary definition of any “positional character” as an character that is not only composed of a legitimate ASCII character but also composed of up to 9 additional, positional characters that may consist of ASCII in a “superimposure” layer. Ergo, our problem looks almost solved, thus leaving the trouble of having enough ASCII characters that will serve the purpose in question.

Really we’re trying to keep within the base idea of using ASCII characters and introduce a layer to the ASCII that can be conjured up with the pressing of a single key that belongs on new keyboard designs, called the positional character key. So then any user would be typing along and come to the letter “a” to make a special character of. Our keyboard mapping scheme would have no use for “ã,” “å,” “ä,” or any of the others. A single press of the positional key could call up a simple 9-point map of squares that would let each of the 9 positions be filled in with a special character such as ~, °, or .. that would already be at the correct mark size in a revised ASCII set. And then the computer would assign the resulting positional character a special code that could be used to derive the resulting ASCII character as an ASCII character that does not exist needfully in your key map for sake of space, other than being a number. That number might take up as many as 10 bytes, but the final character would be complete AND have its own ASCII code. ASCII code would be absolute within its existing 256 characters, extended for the extra characters of necessary size (unless they were to fit the existing blanks already included in the ASCII set), and then derived for the remaining 9 positions. As a hardware engineer, you would probably readily agree that there is no need of a 9! ASCII character keymap to express all possibilities of superimposed characters, so using a derived number of 10-bytes max is not but common sense.

True ASCII contains only 128 characters, with extended ASCII as many as 256, commonly, such as the Commodore 64’s original ASCII. Any time hardware developers need more than the 128 characters, then including an extended character set to the hardware map just makes sense.

How to invoke that positional markup zone number, when typing, would simply be to press the “positional key” and type in the proper numeric extended-ASCII value into each of the relevant 9 positions, leaving any position blank that does not need to be superimposed.

Diagram: Positional Mouse-able GUI

[ ] [°] [ ]

[ ] [ ] [ ]

[ ] [ ] [ ]


Remember, it’s the size of the positional ASCII character that means everything.

… turns up:



Adding the keyboard-engineered positional character shift

The positional key that makes a lot of sense may look like the symbol of chaos, modified to a more even proposition; although another possibility could look like a tri-gram of three ellipses, one one top of another.

Thus outlined above has been a brief discussion about simplifying the user-end problem of how to go from the current limitation of any stock font set and the serendipitous albeit stone cold form of Unicode to what should be a much more practical — but infinitely useful — way of getting the proper characters out and onto your document and computer screen for a truly unique user experience. Plus we have formulated a rather satisfying alternative to what the computer experience has already lacked in terms of having limited power to allow for ingenius use much more functionally and mechanically like a typewriter.


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