Re: Medievalist ligature character in the PUA

From: Karl Pentzlin (
Date: Thu Jan 28 2010 - 08:45:28 CST

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    Am Mittwoch, 27. Januar 2010 um 06:14 schrieb Asmus Freytag:

    AF> The way to get MS and others to support a
    AF> writing style is to create lots and lots of data
    AF> in it, and to get that data popular. :)
    AF> So, the minute you have a Fraktur revival,
    AF> you incrementally create pressure for vendors
    AF> to support it.

    Regarding Fraktur, beside any revivalist activities, it has a continuous
    use for special purposes. For instance, it is used on labels of
    "traditional" foods, on restaurants and store signs, and on menus of
    some "traditional" restaurants. It is also sometimes used for
    typesetting, especially when preserving the appearance of "classical"
    German literature of the 18/19th century.

    However, the problem of MS Word et al. and ligatures is deeper, beyond
    Fraktur. Almost any quality Latin typesetting uses at least fi and fl
    ligatures, and the adequate OpenType liga instructions therefore are
    contained in widespread fonts like DejaVu or Linux Libertine, as well
    as in high-quality fonts like Adobe Minion Pro.
    If a software like MS Word does not support this, you simply cannot do
    quality typesetting in Latin with such a software.

    At least, the current beta of MS Word 2010 supports ligatures in
    principle. The fact that this does not work with a lot of fonts
    containing OpenType liga or rlig tables (like the Breitkopf Fraktur
    included in my previous mail, beside others) may be a problem of the
    Beta version (I hope some Microsoft employees who read here will file
    it as a Beta case, as I did not figure out until now how to give Beta
    feedback to MS by appropriate effort).

    Also, MS Word 2010 Beta has only one stage of ligature enabling, not
    distinguishing (to name only the base OpenType features affecting
    rlig: required ligatures, like Arabic lam-alif, which only may be
      turned of for test or similar purposes, as the text appears "wrong"
      when turned off.
    liga: ligatures, like Latin fi/fl ligatures. These should be "on" by
      default, as the text appears "unpleasant" when turned off, ignoring
      the concepts which the type face designer had in mind when creating
      the type design.
    dlig: discretionary ligatures, like Latin st resembling U+FB06.
      Such, of course, should be "off" by default.
    This results in at least three "ligating" levels:
      "Test": None on
      "Normal": rlig + liga on
      "Prettified": rlig + liga + dlig on
      ("rlig on only" does not seem to be necessary).

    -- 2010-01-27 07:35, Werner LEMBERG wrote on the Unicode list:
    > The `si' ligature is not `required', only recommended. In Fraktur,
    > the mandatory ligatures (for non-foreign words) are only `ch', `ck',
    > and `tz' which never get separated even in `Sperrsatz' (letterspacing,
    > the normal form of emphasis in Fraktur). `Å¿i' actually gets separated
    > in letterspacing

    This in fact addresses a special rule of Fraktur. It is true that only
    the ligatures "ch", "ck", and "tz" are not separated when letterspacing
    (German: "Sperrsatz") is used (the common way to emphasize text in Fraktur,
    as italics is inapplicable and boldface uncommon there), while the
    other ligatures are separated by spaces. However, this rule has no
    influence how letter pairs are treated if there is no space between
    them. However, the fi/fl/Å¿i/... ligatures are "required": In printed
    material from the 19th century, in Fraktur they are used without exception
    (beyond the explicit rule that they are forbidden on boundaries within
    compound words, to be marked with ZWNJ in plain text).

    Letterspacing is something which ideally would be treated on a higher
    protocol level, like italics. But while there seems to be no HTML
    tag pair comparable to <i> ... </i>, in text software it can be
    simulated by specifying a positive intraword character distance.
    To indicate to such a software which ligatures it has to separate
    then, it seems appropriate to declare the ch/ck/tz ligatures as
    "rlig" and the other ones as "liga".

    I have modified the "Breitkopf Fraktur Uni" in this way (see
    attachment), and the simulated letterspacing works fine this way with
    Adobe Indesign CS4 (see attached specimen).

    - Karl


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