Re: Latin ligatures and Unicode

From: John Cowan (
Date: Wed Dec 29 1999 - 10:14:18 EST scripsit:

> 1) I would not propose that ZWL, in the normal case, is a prerequisite to
> the appearance of a ligature.

I agree. Absent ZWNL, fonts should be able to ligature whenever they want to.

> 3) I like the idea that ZWL and ZWNL be unified with ZWJ and ZWNJ, [...]
> the ZW*L function cannot be used in scripts, like Devanagari or Arabic,
> where ZWJ and ZWNJ already have a well-defined meaning. But my feeling is
> that the ligating behavior of these scripts is already well defined, or (for
> Indic scripts other than Devanagari) will be defined soon with no need for
> the new "ligator" concept.

I think Arabic is precisely the case where ZW*J needs to be distinguished
from ZW*L. Joining (shape control) is one thing; the creation of
ligatures is quite another. High-quality Arabic typography has gobs of
ligatures. What I don't know (and would like to know) is whether in any case
the use or non-use of a ligature affects meaning rather than presentation.
If the answer is no, then ZW*L is not really needed for Arabic.

> (BTW: My old English teachers would have said "scenarioes", but she was a
> 2nd language teacher too. In Italian it would be "scenari" or, even better,
> "scenarÓ"; "scenarii" is very obsolete and is not to be seen in 20th century
> texts).

<digression subject="philology">
"Scenarios" is the standard plural form; only a handful of words in "-o"
form their plurals in "-oes", and (notoriously) some native speakers
(including some teachers, alas) have come to believe that if the plural
is "-oes", the singular must be "-oe": true for "toe", false for "tomato".
Newly introducted words in "-o" almost always have a regular plural "-os".

"Scenarii" was probably an attempt to construct a Latinate plural,
similar to the use of "viri" or (worse) "virii" as plural of "virus".
In Latin, "virus" (meaning "poison") was a mass-noun with no usual
plural form; the proper English plural is "viruses".

John Cowan                         
       I am a member of a civilization. --David Brin

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