RE: [OpenType] Proposal: Ligatures w/ ZWJ in OpenType

From: John Hudson (
Date: Tue Jul 09 2002 - 12:23:10 EDT

At 01:20 09/07/2002, Asmus Freytag wrote:

>OK. Here we go again. There is simply no way that one can
>'typographically' ligate standard German without text (!) based control,
>since places where ligatures are prohibited depend on the meaning (i.e.
>intended content) of the text, in a way that's similar to hyphenation.
>This must not be confused with arbitrary ligation control used in document
>studies. Those people need a lot more special features, so that they are
>far removed from plain text at any rate.
>The use of ZWNJ was not primarily introduced for the academic audience,
>but for all (modern) languages where allowing blanket ligation based on
>character pairs is orthographically incorrect.

Well, there's nothing in my proposal that would prevent any such use. The
whole point of the proposal is to provide a means to form required
ligatures in the presence of ZJW, without interfering with existing general
ligation in page layout apps and without having the latter overriding the
ZWJ sequences. The ZWNJ sequences work automatically, because they break
the ligature forming sequences.

I'm well aware of the particular needs of ligation in German, but I don't
think using ZWJ/ZWNJ in the text string is a good solution. Are you really
expecting German users to type in this way? What are the expectations of
German spellchecking, sorting anfd searching in regard to text littered
with ZWJ/ZWNJ?

It seems to me that what German typesetting needs is a way to link
dictionary support to layout features, so that this stuff can be handled
automatically. I'm not a programmer, so I can't imagine how difficult this
is going to be.

John Hudson

Tiro Typeworks
Vancouver, BC

Language must belong to the Other -- to my linguistic community
as a whole -- before it can belong to me, so that the self comes to its
unique articulation in a medium which is always at some level
indifferent to it. - Terry Eagleton

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