Re: Ethiopic chromatic fonts (Was: Chess symbols, ZWJ, Opentype and holly type ornaments.)

Date: Thu Jun 20 2002 - 16:13:26 EDT

On 06/20/2002 01:34:34 PM John Hudson wrote:

>>The question interests me because a while ago now I was amusing myself
>>the idea of being able to do this kind of thing in Graphite (another
>>smart-font technology akin to OpenType) in order to emulate dual-coloured
>>Ethiopic manuscripts -- specifically, I was thinking of a way to handle
>>paragraph marks that are done with four black dots interspersed with five
>>red dots.
>>Can an OpenType (or Graphite) font be programmed to do this? No. Should
>>technology be revised to accommodate this? There's not a clear enough
>>to warrent the increased complexity, I think. (But it would be possible
>>implement, and it's still amusing to imagine doing so.)
>Peter, what do you see as the options for achieving something like this?

If by "the options" you mean "what kind of mechanism would it take?", then
it would amount to a substitution rule along the lines (using some pseudo
notation) of

     gU1368 > gU1368_a [colour = red] gU1368_b [colour = black]


     gU1368 > gU1368_a [colour = alt] gU1368_b [colour = default]

If you means, "what likelihood do you see of anyone implementing support
for something like this", that would be slim.

>Some aspects of colour use in Ethiopic manuscripts can clearly be handled
>using markup (e.g. the small, raised red glyphs providing chant
>instructions, for which I'm wondering if existing ruby notation solutions
>might be easily adapted). The paragraph marker is a tricky problem,

Indeed, since it requires a character's shape to be divided into two
differently-coloured glyphs. It probably wouldn't be hard to implement a
smart-font system that could support switching between default and
alternate colours (where the actual colour choices are specified somewhere
else in the system, with control handled using some kind of feature or
attribute system (e.g. in the Graphite Description Language, this could
easily be expressed as a glyph attribute), but I don't really expect
anybody to implement this.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>

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