Re: LastResort BDF font updated

From: Glen Perkins (
Date: Tue Jun 24 1997 - 13:46:51 EDT

One other issue regarding usability in the LastResort font. Several
months ago, I asked why the "ka" glyph (U+AC00, in a rounded rectangle,
of course) was being proposed as a representative of Hangul. I asked if
it wouldn't be better if the "han" (U+D55C) in "hangul" were used
instead. "Han" would *mean* "hangul" to a Korean speaker, but "ka" would
just *be* hangul. Apparently, it was decided to go ahead and use the
"ka" anyway.

In the case of Devanagari and Bengali, I can't read either language, and
distinguishing between those two glyphs is pretty tough for me. If I
ever had to work with them, it would be quite a challenge to avoid
making a mistake. "Dev" and "Ben" (or something similar in the Latin
alphabet) would be a lot easier for me to distinguish and
remember--thus, a lot less error prone.

In the cases of Japanese and Korean, though, I have the opposite
usability problem. I've been a speaker of both since I was a teenager
(almost 20 years), and a professional translator of both at various
times, and when I see the LastResort glyphs for hangul and kana, I don't
see a *script*, I see a "ka". The glyphs for hangul, katakana, and
hiragana are all characters for "ka". Although there is less aspiration
in the Korean "ka", a mixed string of hangul, hiragana, and katakana in
the LastResort font looks to me like:


Ironically, it might still be easier for me to distinguish "Hgl" from
"Ktk" from "Hrg", in this case because I *can* read these scripts, not
because I can't. I think the character version would be easier than the
latin version (for me) if they didn't all instantly become "ka" in my
mind when I glanced at them.

This is just my personal feeling regarding usability, and I'm sure there
are a lot of other issues to consider, as well as a lot of other
opinions. I really like the idea of a LastResort font, and I'm grateful
for it and for those who are doing so much work on it. It would just be
a little easier for me personally, as a user, if there were

1) a version of the font that used latin abbreviations to make it easier
for me to identify and distinguish scripts I couldn't read, as well as
making technical distinctions such as "CJK compatibility", and

2) for scripts that I could read, if the glyphs in the character version
were chosen so as to clearly announce to me what scripts they
represented. If the hangul glyph shouted "han" in hangul, the katakana
glyph said "ka" ("kata" would be better if not too big) in katakana, and
the hiragana glyph said "hi" (or "hira") in hiragana, they would
identify themselves at two levels. I wouldn't have to tell myself, "no,
slow down, don't *read* it, just look at the glyph: which *script* is
it?" I could just glance at it, and it would identify itself without
additional conscious effort.

__Glen Perkins__

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