Could somebody check if the following is still a problem in current TL: Not so far as I can see. I get quite different (and normal) behavior with current TeX, so I guess Knuth fixed it. Strange interaction cases were a major area in this tune-up. This is with TeX 3.141592653 (TeX Live 2021) from the current TL pretest (https://tug.org/texlive/pretest). --best, karl.