Re: Unicode Cyrillic GHE DE PE TE in Serbian

From: Tiro Typeworks (
Date: Thu Dec 30 1999 - 15:48:55 EST

On Thu, 30 Dec 1999, Janko Stamenovic wrote:

> In Serbian hadwritten text and in printed italics Cyrillic letters GHE, DE,
> PE and TE are written differently than in Russian.
> What I would like to ask is: can anybody of experienced people who read this
> suggest how the described problem can be solved:
> - Should be four additional characters for Cyrillic Serbian letters which
> are different in italics from Russian letters introduced to Unicode?

This is not necessary, because the Serbian and Macedonian forms of these
characters are glyph variants. That is to say, the character is still GHE,
only the representative form is different.
> - Is there some other way which would allow standardization? As far as I can
> see current situation, it would be quite unrealistic to have "Serbian" and
> "Russian" version of unicode fonts. Then Russian would not be able to write
> Serbian and vice versa with one Unicode font?

There are two ways to address this problem, one of which involves higher
level text processing. The first, and simplest method, is simply to build
Serbian/Macedonian fonts in which the GHE, DE, etc, have appropriately
formed glyphs for these characters. This requires no higher level
processing, and the only drawback is that Russians, Ukrainians, etc, etc,
will not want to use your fonts.

The second solution is to make OpenType fonts using the Locale /locl/
layout feature. This feature allows font developers to make glyph
substitutions based on language specification, so in a font in which the
Russian Cyrillic forms were considered the default forms for the Cyrillic
script, a developer could set exceptions for the Serbian language.
Alternatively, a Serbian font developer could set the Serbian forms as
defaults and specify exceptions for all the other Cyrillic script
languages, although this would be less efficient.

The /locl/ feature tag has been accepted for registration by Microsoft and
Adobe, and will be included in the next update to the OpenType spec. I
actually proposed the /locl/ tag with Serbian and Macedonian in mind, but
we have since come up with many more useful implementations. Adobe, for
instance, will be using the /locl/ tag to enable substitutions of
nationally preferred forms of CJKV ideographs.

John Hudson

Tiro Typeworks
Vancouver, BC

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