RE: Is long s a presentation form?

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Mon Nov 11 2002 - 06:42:15 EST

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    Michael Everson wrote:
    > I like to think of the long s as similar to the final sigma. Nobody
    > thinks that final sigma should be a presentation form of sigma.

    Never say "nobody": I *do* think that Greek final sigma, final Hebrew
    letters, and Latin long s should all be presentation forms. I think that
    they are encoded as separate characters only because of compatibility with
    pre-existing standards such as ISO 8859.

    Occasional exceptions to the general distributional rules of these
    presentation forms would not have been a valid reason to encode them as
    separate characters. Similar exceptions also occur in Indic and Arabic
    scripts (e.g., the Arabic abbreviation for "plural" is a "jiim" in initial
    form). These case can be supported in plain-text using ZWJ and ZWNJ:

            "Wachstube" = German for "guard room";
            "Wachs<ZWNJ>tube = German for "wax tube".
            <jiim><ZWJ> = Arabic for "plural";

    > Nobody really uses long s in modern Roman typography, and it's a lot
    > more convenient to have this as a separate character for the
    > nonce-uses that it has than to expect font designers round the world
    > to add special shaping tables to all their fonts just for this
    > critter.

    Why "all their fonts"? Only a few fonts designed for special purposes need
    to have the long/short s distinction.

    _ Marco

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