Re: Latin ligatures and Unicode

From: Eberhard Pehlemann (
Date: Sun Dec 26 1999 - 19:30:06 EST

John Jenkins schrieb:

> 3. There is a proposal to add a ligator character to specify the ligation of
> two Latin characters, but the proposal is controversial.
> In any event, your case wouldn't be appropriate for such a use -- you're
> dealing with a number of ligatures which are compulsory within a specific
> typeface. Forcing the user to specify the formation of these ligatures
> whenever the characters are used -- and risking their showing up in other
> typefaces where they may not be appropriate -- isn't the best way to go. For
> situations where graphic alterations of the characters are required for proper
> display, the Unicode approach is to have the rendering software handle it.

I disagree! Blackletter ligatures cannot be handled just by the rendereing

In the german language, written in a blackletter font, there are cases where
only the meaning of a word decides if a ligature must or must not be used. (See
below for an example.) But how shall the rendering software know about the
meaning (the semantics) of my text?

For an example, see the one given by Otto Stolz in his e-mail concerning "Long S
(was: Latin ligatures and Unicode)" to <> of Mon, 20 Dec

The two german words
- Wachstube (wax tube)
- Wachstube (guard's room)
look exactly the same when written in latin and without use of ligatures. But
they have a different meaning.

Written in Fraktur and using the (compulsory) Fraktur ligatures, we have
- Wa{ch}s-tu-be (wax tube)
- Wa{ch}-{<U+017F>t}u-be (guard's room) (<U+017F> is the long s)
where curly braces denote ligatures and the hyphen denotes possible line breaks.

As long as the rendering software can't read my thoughts, it will NOT be able to
handle these ligarures correctly!!! (This statement remains correct even if a
dictionary containing ligature or word boundary information is present.)

I admit that this example is a rare case. But it shows that the principle of not
admitting explicit ligation information input by the writer will not work in all



Eberhard Pehlemann, Dorfstraße 7, D-23909 Giesensdorf, Germany, Tel. +49 4541

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