Reply To: Modified Letters

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Thank you, Cindy. Attached is a document that contains my response (repeated below) to the question about modified letters.


I agree that the transcription of nth or nth can be a brain twister. The transcribers at the Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund are certainly not the only ones having problems with this. Every single transcriber and group of transcribers is struggling with some aspect (or, let’s be honest, some number of aspects) of using Nemeth Code within UEB contexts.

We are all doing what we can to provide braille readers with accurate material that is as reader-friendly and consistent (within itself and across publications) as possible. It’s a constantly evolving process, largely due to thoughtful questions like this, and it is worth it.

In regard to “nth”:

First, consider that transcribing an ordinal ending does not require the use of any Nemeth-Code-specific symbols. Conversely, transcribing a number or letter that is combined with a decimal, a sign of operation, a superscript, etc. does require the use of one or more Nemeth-Code-specific symbols.

Second, mathematical significance, does not in and of itself necessitate Nemeth Code switch indicators. Words, including “plus,” “percent,” and “equals,” do not require switch indicators. Numbers do not automatically require switch indicators. Variables do not automatically require switch indicators. The mathematical constant e and the imaginary number i do not require switch indicators. Similarly, n does not require switch indicators, even when it is combined with an ordinal ending. [I expect this will be more clearly stated in the update to our Guidance whenever it is published.]

Third, for every Nemeth-within-UEB transcription, we must trust our readers to accommodate some inconsistency, because two braille codes are being used to make the document.

Thank you for the question. Keep on brailling on.

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