Re: Latin ligatures and Unicode

From: Timothy Partridge (
Date: Mon Dec 20 1999 - 20:20:00 EST

John Cowan recently said:

> wrote:
> > Yes, I think it's likely. "f+ZWL+i" would be an explicitly required
> > ligature, "f+ZWNL+i" would be an explicitly forbidden ligarure, "f+i" would
> > be the programmers' favorite expression: "the default".
> Sounds good to me.
> > I don't understand the cursiveness example that Michael does above; what
> > other subtle reasons are there not to unify ZWL with ZWJ?
> Primarily that ZWJ and ZWNJ are essentially related to the idea of context-sensitive
> letterforms. They function as letters which deceive the shaping process.
> In the Arabic context, which is the paradigmatic one for these letters, the
> sequence letter+ZWJ deceives the renderer into believing that the letter
> is initial rather than isolated. Similarly, in Indic scripts the relevant
> forms are "normal", "normal with explicit virama" and "half form", and ZW[N]J
> deceives the normal rendering process here as well.
> ZWL, though, does not cause "f" to become "the f-form used with i following",
> nor "i" to become "the i-form used with f preceding", because there are
> no such things, and it would be intolerably ad hoc to make them so.

ZWL would request a ligation. The exact glyphs of the letters depends on the context.
ka + virama + ka stacks verticaly, but ka + virama and most other letters
stays horizontal and the first ka has a different glyph.

John Cowan also recently said:

> "James E. Agenbroad" wrote:

> > Could the Devanagari halant be used with Latin script, runes, etc.? This
> > is just a quick idea. Feel free to shoot it down.

> Two problems: virama has its own default glyph, and there seems to be
> no reason to use DEVANAGARI VIRAMA rather than one of the dozen or so
> other viramas. But this leads to an idea: that ZWL should be called
> SOFT VIRAMA, as it is used to ligate characters if possible, but has
> no rendering if ligation is impossible.

Virama implies killing an inherent vowel and is a script specific concept.
Ligatures are more general. The behaviour with Indic scripts needs to be
defined though.


Tim Partridge. Any opinions expressed are mine only and not those of my employer

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