Re: Character identities

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Mon Oct 28 2002 - 21:29:47 EST

  • Next message: Michael \(michka\) Kaplan: "Re: Character identities"

    I'm pretty much in agreement with what you say, except the following:

    > Of course, the term "Unicode font" is also often used to mean "a font
    > that covers all, or nearly all, of Unicode."

    I would consider a Unicode font to be one that met your other conditions,
    aside from the repertoire. If I had a font that covered Latin, Greek and
    Cyrillic and worked with Unicode strings, for example, I would still
    consider that a Unicode font. I just wouldn't consider it a (pick your
    adjective) full / complete Unicode font.

    ► “Eppur si muove” ◄

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Doug Ewell" <>
    To: "Unicode Mailing List" <>
    Sent: Monday, October 28, 2002 17:37
    Subject: Re: Character identities

    > My USD 0.02, as someone who is neither a professional typographer nor a
    > font designer (more than one, but not quite two, different things)...
    > Discussions about the character-glyph model often mention the "essential
    > characteristics" of a given character. For example, a Latin capital A
    > can be bold, italic, script, sans-serif, etc., but it must always have
    > that essential "A-ness" such that readers of (e.g.) English can identify
    > it as an A instead of, say, an O or a 4 or a picture of a duck. (Mark
    > Davis has a chart showing dozens of different A's in his "Unicode Myths"
    > presentation.)
    > Somewhere in between the obvious relationships (A = A, B ≠ A), we have
    > the case pair A and a. They are not identical, but they are certainly
    > more similar to each other than are A and B.
    > It seems to me, as a non-font guy, that calling a font a "Unicode font"
    > implies two things:
    > 1. It must be based on Unicode code points. For True- and OpenType
    > fonts, this implies a Unicode cmap; for other font technologies it
    > implies some more-or-less equivalent mechanism. The point is that
    > glyphs must be associated with Unicode code points (not necessarily
    > 1-to-1, of course), not merely with an internal 8-bit table that can be
    > mapped to Unicode only through some other piece of software.
    > 2. The glyphs must reflect the "essential characteristics" of the
    > Unicode character to which they are mapped. That means a capital A can
    > be bold, italic, script, sans-serif, etc. A small a can also be
    > small-caps (or even full-size caps), but I think this is the only
    > controversial point.
    > In a Unicode font, U+0041 cannot be mapped to a capital A with macron,
    > as it is in Bookshelf Symbol 1; nor to a six-pointed star, as in
    > Monotype Sorts; nor to a hand holding up two fingers, as in Wingdings.
    > (But it can be mapped to a "notdef" glyph, if the font makes no claim to
    > supporting U+0041.)
    > U+0915 absolutely can have snow on it, or be bold or italic or whatever
    > (or all of these), as long as a Devanagari reader would recognize its
    > essential "ka-ness." It cannot look like a Latin A, nor for that matter
    > can U+0041 look like a Devanagari ka.
    > Font guys, do you agree with this?
    > Of course, the term "Unicode font" is also often used to mean "a font
    > that covers all, or nearly all, of Unicode." Font technologies
    > generally don't even allow this, of course, and even by the standards of
    > "nearly" we are still limiting ourselves to things like Bitstream
    > Cyberbit, Arial Unicode MS, Code2000, Cardo, etc. Right or wrong, this
    > is a commonly accepted meaning for "Unicode font."
    > -Doug Ewell
    > Fullerton, California

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