Re: Latin ligatures and Unicode

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Wed Dec 29 1999 - 11:07:30 EST

Throughout this whole discussion of ligatures in Latin and the proposed
(or at least bandied-about) ZERO-WIDTH LIGATOR characters, one issue
keeps bothering me. I'm not sure how terrific it would be to allow (or
require) a ZWL and ZWNL to achieve ligation, and what new problems this
would create, but at the same time I'm uncomfortable with leaving this
issue up to the font vendors, and I think Marco Cimarosti summed it up

> I would like to stress one point. If I am not totally wrong, Unicode
> should be a standard to encode *plain text*.
> AAT, OpenType, or any other font technology should not be considered
> as *prerequisites* for displaying Unicode.
> Or is any particular font technology now *required* by the Unicode
> standard?
> Or is it now "non conformant" to use bitmapped fonts?

The idea that a particular font "technology" (where I use the word in
its marketing sense that is closer to "vendor's product" than "set of
capabilities") is necessary to render Unicode plain text properly is the
first step toward having that vendor claim that its products are the
only ones that support Unicode.

Obviously, some advanced font capabilities *are* necessary to render all
of Unicode properly. (Note, BTW, the use of plain text to indicate
italics, obviating the need for a special Unicode character to indicate
this markup.) For instance, you cannot render Arabic without choosing
the contextually appropriate glyph. But this is a long way from saying
"You need AAT" or "You need OpenType." The latter would send the
message that Unicode support requires specific vendors' products, and we
could be back where we started decades ago, with each vendor devising
its own character encoding solutions.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:57 EDT