The elusive G-sign said to exist in South America may not be in Windows, says a customer who has hunted for it

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/04/12 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

Some of you may remember that report not too long ago from scientists in the UK who were unable to find the G-spot.

The study criteria were contested by some French researchers.

And the whole mess was the subject of some ridicule in regard to attitudes about sex in the two countries, and a bunch of "Note to Brits: 3 inches in, 1/2 inch up, & Pull" jokes abounded.

In my opinion, everything was best immortalized in an XKCD comic, which captured the issues while only resorting to making fun of geeks (a group that can laugh at itself when it needs to!):


I am riffing off that story a bit, in this blog you are reading.

Now I am not going to talk about any kind of personal search for the G-Spot, or any claims about who could or could not find it at Microsoft.

My slide rule is sealed up in a box on the other side of the country, but I'd estimate that would be at least ten kinds of inappropriate, right?

Let's face it, this blog's intro is sophmoric enough.

So, to be clear, this blog isn't about the G-Spot at all.

Instead I am going to talk about an elusive G-Sign.

It started off as one of those innocent questions from a customer, one who was trying to use the Paraguay Guaraní currency symbol (₲, aka U+20b2, aka GUARANI SIGN).

It looks like a G that has had a line shoved in the top so far through it that it comes out the other end. One can almost visualize the news headline on the Internet:

"G, that hurt!" the letter was believed to have said at the time of the impalement.

Now many sites, such as Wikipedia (ref: here), are pretty clear that this sign is the one that one might expect here.

Yet in Regional and Language Options, the only locale supported for Paraguay (as it happens, Spanish - Paraguay) shows Gs as the currency symbol:

Now that currency sign (U+20b2), the shish-kebab'ed G was not added to Unicode until version 4.1.

So there was no way it could have been in Windows XP -- because even it had been requested, it is unlikely we would have put U+0047 U+0338 (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER G; COMBINING LONG SOLIDUS OVERLAY) or any other such construct in as a representation of a currency sign....

Now that gets us off the hook for XP. And even Server 2003, given the timings of software releases and such.

But for Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7, and Server 2008 R2, there are not so many excuses to give....

Frankly, Microsoft has not seemed to be in such a huge hurry to get it into products, whether one is thinking about Windows (as is noted above) or in SQL Server (which in the SQL 2008 Using Monetary Data has clearly shown a product that has expanded beyond its 2000 Using Monetary Data roots, going from 18 to 34 different recognized currency symbols!). It did not include the Guaraní Sign either.

I guess you could say though that our overall support for Guaraní is lacking.

Though of course it goes beyond just that (I hinted at the problem, above. Do you know what it is?).

There is only one language that is better-known and has a longer history in Paraguay than Spanish, which of course came over with the Spaniards many hundreds of years ago. And that original language is still reportedly quite well known in Paraguay.

And that language is?

Yes, you guessed it. It is also named Guaraní, or perhaps even Paraguayan Guaraní (outside of Paraguay, I assume, to distinguish it from the other varieties of Guaraní you might find in other nearby parts of South America).

Yet there is no Guaraní - Paraguay (gn-PY) locale on Windows.

Though it does show up in Word, at least:

and it is only slightly misspelled there (maybe in English it is Guarani rather than Guaraní, so it techically might not even be a misspelling anyway.

I forgive them this in any case, since if you save the document as XML when you have tagged text with that language and then open the XML file in Notepad, it clearly (well, as clearly as this crazy format allows) comes up tagged as gn-PY. Which rocks. Truly. :-)

For the Guaraní alphabet, we are mostly covered.

Though of course Unicode doesn't have a precomposed form of the G with tilde, which would be okay if not for the fact that our fonts don't do so well with it anyway - so it works well for lowercase though not uppercase in all the fonts I tried:

G̃      g̃

Although at least both Unicode and many of the fonts that were updated picked up the new currency sign, at least.

If Microsoft were making the moves to better support the language, core fonts would have a better story here for that capital letter.

To make things more confusing, if you look at the big list of locale IDs (LCIDs) here, you will see an LCID for this one: 0474. Though of course there is no such locale in Windows (nor, as far as I know, are there plans to do so, though this all happens somewhere else done by other people so I am hardly "in the know" on that point). I assume it is on the list because Office wanted it, since they appear to have it while Windows does not.

It makes me wonder what they are using for locale data in Office, internally!

When did we start publishing the big list of locales? Cool, but scary!

In case you were wondering, I don't think CLDR has Guaraní either. I have not checked though, does anyone know?

Now the Guaraní language has fascinating aspects beyond that "heavy metal tilde" g̃ (which is controversial even in the language according to one person I talked to, who told me that there are many in country who would prefer to get rid of that letter and replace it with the plain old unadorned G given, among othedr reasons, the poor support in computers!).

This is a language with nasal harmony, which is really cool in my opinon.

We need to see more of that!

Getting back to the original question, about that

You know, that Guaraní Sign, the "Spiked-G" sign, the question of why it is not in Windows is an interesting one.

There is a Microsoft Paraguay site, which has an es in the link in case one was going to doubt the Spanish influence there:

And not too many references to Guaraní (language or currency) there.

Which makes me really want to rush off email to someone in the subsidiary there to ask them if all of this is wrong, and if it is then whether someone planned on communicating it.

Though that sort of thing is best left to the people who own this stuff, of course....

It is often so hard to know what is going on and whether something isn't right until someone complains about the fact that it isn't.

Is the Guaraní language known to many but used by none for written communication? Is the pierced-G currency sign not really used in-country with that Gs preferred? Is Gs pronounced Geees, as unlikely as that may seem, or is that the frustrated expression of someone who has been watching us skewer an S for our currency sign for so many years while not supporting their own attempt to bayonet a G?

Who can say for sure, other than someone "Paraguayian" really?

Is anyone reading this from Paraguay who knows for sure?

John Cowan on 12 Apr 2010 8:56 AM:

CLDR also lacks Guaraní; I've bugged Mark D. about it.

Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Apr 2010 9:19 AM:

Does es-PY in the CLDR have or Gs as the currency sign?

Nick on 12 Apr 2010 8:02 PM:

Yes, I checked, and yes, you have the title-text.  Good work ;)

Paul Clapham on 12 Apr 2010 9:07 PM:

Looks like you read the relevant Wikipedia articles; but if you look really closely, you'll see that even the last editor didn't dare use the official Unicode character for the Guarani sign. Instead it's a tiny image which takes up exactly the same sign that a letter G would.

Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Apr 2010 10:42 PM:

I glanced at a few, but most of the info came from a customer (a dev writing code for customers in Paraguay)....

I don't blame folks in Wikipedia for being cautious though; support is far from ubiquitous....

referenced by

2011/04/18 We are missing the Naira, not the Narnia, though technically we are missing the Narnia too

2010/10/15 "Breaking changes" are mostly about potential, not realization

2010/07/15 If it was me, I'd say "I love the Rupee, and it was my idea!"

2010/06/01 It is with a tenge of sorrow that I say this

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