Frank -- > but isn't this ambiguity already present anyway in TeX? and those > interfaces have to deal with it? E.g., if you write 1+2 without > explicitly marking it as a math formula you get a text string 1+2 not > $1+2$ Whether or not text is in math mode is an important authoring issue that requires explicit author indication. For example: \begin{quote} Everyone knows that the 2 most important numbers are $0$ and $1$\@[log in to unmask] \end{quote} André Weil in a celebrated book review took the position that one who wishes to study the history of mathematics needs to know both Greek and Latin. It follows that a mathematical historian writing in English needs to be able to use the Greek alphabet both for quoting brief segments of Greek text and for creating mathematical symbols. Ideally the typeset representations should be different depending on whether or not one is in math mode, just as with 'a', 'b', 'c', ..., and '1', '2', ... . But inasmuch as LaTeX does not come with its own fonts, it seems to me that the pragmatic thing would be to provide dual handling of \alpha etc. when possible with the fonts at hand and unified handling otherwise. Presumably somebody in a locale where the Greek characters get regular text use will have easy access also to the unicode points. And I think the difference between α (as a representation here of the unicode point) and \alpha should be erased in normal LaTeX document classes. (Sophisticated users could still be given a way to control the distinction.) I don't know the internals, so I'm guessing in suggesting that to make these things seamless for non TeXpert authors it may be necessary for LaTeX to add its own bookkeeping on math mode independent of TeX's. -- Bill P.S. I assume that this discussion, which began with your questions about changing over to the T1 fontenc, is about LaTeX3 and not about the next 2E (unless the next 2E is to be 3).