Re: Arabic Requirements

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Thu Jan 09 1997 - 20:06:15 EST


> | The ligatures, especially the Arabic ligatures, were encoded
> | "for compatibility". That is a polite way of saying they were
> | needed to meet some requirement to get the standard approved,
> | or were needed for backwards compatibility to some existing
> | encoding implementation which had a different model of text
> | representation. In the case of the Arabic ligatures, the
> | motivation was entirely for standards approval, because there
> | was no existing implementation.
> What was the specific requirement? I think the Arabic section
> is a mess and I can only imagine that it is the union of several
> fonts. Is that so? what were the fonts?

The requirements were *standards* requirements. They can be traced
back to a series of JTC1/SC2/WG2 resolutions in 1992/1993 and related
input from
national standards bodies, comments on balloting of the standard,
etc. No doubt this is all recoverable from the WG2 minutes and
document archive. However, it was clearly *not* the result of some
existing font. The fonts which were used to print 10646 had to be
specially created for the Arabic ligatures sections, because no one
could locate an existing font which would cover them in sufficient
quality for the printing. The original documents requiring the
ligatures showed them in hand-drawn form. Unicode got the Arabic
ligatures (reluctantly, I might add) from 10646.


--Ken Whistler

> | As the Unicode Standard clearly states, the preferred encoding
> | of Arabic does not use the encoded Arabic ligatures from
> | U+FB50..U+FDFF--and in fact their inclusion in the standard has
> | only made full support of Arabic more complicated, rather than
> | easier.
> And beyond that there are full words and a symbol for "place
> of prayer" that I've never seen anywhere (rather like the
> "hot springs" symbol; perhaps drawn from some guidebook?).

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