Re: AFII font for UCS:2000

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 15:05:16 EDT

At 06:36 AM 15-10-99 -0700, James E. Agenbroad wrote:

>Given that for some scripts (mainly Arabic, Indic and SE Asian) the
>character to glyph ratio (or roughly the Unicode(tm) characters to AFII
>registered glyphs ratio) is often 1:several, has the Unicode Consortium
>plans for AFII glyphs that rendering engines need but that have no single
>equivalent in Unicode? Could one hope to see a list (or lists by script?)
>of the sequences of Unicode codes that could invoke these "orphan glyphs"?
>I know such lists would involve significant effort but by reducing
>vendor's redundant efforts and costs they would be of considerable utility
>in promoting availabilty of legible text in these scripts. While there
>will always be specific device dependencies, is more standardization

Not only is the character to glyph ratio for some scripts 1:several (e.g.
Arabic position-dependent letterforms), but for many scripts the ratio is
several:1 (e.g. consonant conjunct forms in Indic scripts). The larger
problem, though, is that for many of these scripts there is no fixed set of
glyphs which are 'proper' to represent a given language, let alone multiple
languages sharing the script. At best, one might try to identify a set of
minimally required glyphs to represent 'acceptable' text (i.e. text which
native readers would accept as readable). Even this, though, presents
problems, as readers' expectations may vary. In the case of Devangari, for
example, some readers may accept extensive use of half-forms, while others
may insist on extensive use of morphographic or ligature forms. If the
latter is the case, you will quickly find that there is little agreement
about which forms are preferred. Fiona Ross, discussing Indic
implementation on Linotype photosetting equipment, said that every Indian
newspaper editor they consulted presented a different set of ligatures, the
number and form of which depended to some extent on whether that editor had
studied Sanskrit. At this point, the definition of an appropriate glyph set
becomes a font development question, and different developers will produce
different solutions depending on their customers' requirements; the same
developer may implement different solutions for different customers.

John Hudson

Tiro Typeworks
Vancouver, BC

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