RE: ct, fj and blackletter ligatures

From: Kent Karlsson (
Date: Tue Nov 05 2002 - 10:35:35 EST

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: ct, fj and blackletter ligatures"

    > German is indeed a special case, and there are various ideas
    > for how best
    > to handle German ligation. Clearly, inserting ZWJ where one
    > wanted ligation
    > -- or, perhaps, ZWNJ where one didn't want it -- is an
    > option. Using ZWNJ is probably a better solution,

    Why would not SOFT HYPHEN be appropriate here? If this does
    occur between words, a SOFT HYPHEN would be appropriate anyway.
    (Of course, that does not mean that they are often inserted,
    but more likely than a ZWNJ, which in addition may interfere
    negatively with automatic hyphenation, while SHY interferes
    positively with automatic hyphenation.)

    This is not to say that SOFT HYFHEN must prevent ligatures:

    Firstly, the claim that there must be no ligation over subword
    boundaries is made only for German. I've never heard such a claim
    for Swedish, which uses compund words just as much as German.
    So I don't see why SOFT HYPHEN (when invisible) should prevent
    ligation in the graphical sense (the shapes for the original
    letters are joined), with the possible exception of German.

    Secondly, even if there is no ligature in the graphical sense
    there can still be a ligature in the technical sense (a single
    glyph) but where the shapes of the original letters are separated.
    The latter may be needed for the case of "no ligature" (in the
    graphical sense), to prevent an aestetically displeasing overlap.
    So there may still be a need for a ligature (in the technical
    sense) over word boundaries (which may include a SOFT HYPHEN)
    also for German.

    > For other languages, it is typical for a set of standard
    > ligatures (usually
    > those involving f followed by an ascending form: fb ffb ff fh
    > ffh fi ffi fj
    > ffj fk ffk fl ffl) to be on by default because these

    Yes, please. (ft and fft are strangely missing...) For some fonts
    there may be even more cases (like gj and tt) where ligation to
    make what otherwise would have been ugly overlaps look good.

    > ligatures are not
    > merely stylistic but preserve word shape integrity by
    > reducing white space
    > between the letters while avoiding distracting collisions.
    > The well known
    > exception to this is found in the typography of those Turkic
    > languages that
    > employ a dotless as well as a dotted i: for these languages
    > fi and ffi
    > ligature formation needs to be supressed, or special
    > ligatures need to be
    > provided that do not remove the dot of the i. OpenType

    I would agree mostly, but with some formulation modifications.

    If there would be no overlap, there is no pressing need
    for a ligature. If there would be overlap, use a ligature
    (in the technical sense) to form a ligature (in the graphical
    sense) or use a ligature (in the technical sense) to form
    disjoint shapes, depending factors as you mention.

                    /Kent K

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