Re: f-hook (was Re: Awful Unicode character names )

From: Jim Allan (
Date: Fri Apr 11 2003 - 23:43:49 EDT

  • Next message: Pim Blokland: "Re: f-hook (was Re: Awful Unicode character names )"

    Ken Whistler wrote:

    > The challenge for the type designer of
    > fonts for African languages is to design an f-with-hook that
    > looks right in roman fonts and a italic glyph for f-with-hook
    > that looks right in italic fonts.

    I don't think the answer is quite that.

    What we seem to have here is common enough in the development of
    character sets, the assigning of different meanings to shapes that
    originated as arbitrary or stylistic variations of a single character,
    so that they become separate characters.

    Eg. IPA symbol U+0251 LATIN SMALL LETTER ALPHA might just as well be
    described as a romanized italic _a_, distinguished in IPA from the
    normal double-story _a_ form. Unintelligent Unicode fonts for linguistic
    use must therefore, whether in Roman or Italic style, always use the
    double-story _a_ form for U+0061 and the single-story _a_ for U+0251.

    Intelligent fonts can also make the distinction by glyph variation.

    But that does not work for plain text files or with many commonly
    available fonts, for example, Arial Unicode.

    Compare the lack of distintion also in Arial Unicode between U+0261
    LATIN SMALL SCRIPT G _ɡ_ and regular _g_ which in that font is
    identical, but which for linguistic use should normally have a closed
    loop to distinguish the two characters if necessary. (Admittedly this
    distinction is almost never used.)

    Other characters indistinguishable from an italic/script variant of
    another letter are U+0265 LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED H _ɥ_(for italic
    _y_), U+028B LATIN SMALL LETTER V WITH HOOK _ʋ_ (for a very normal form
    of italic _v_) and the letter under discussion U+0192 LATIN SMALL LETTER
    F WITH HOOK _ƒ_ (which is just a normal form of italic _f_). I expect in
    each case these are the origins of the forms.

    A font for linguistic purposes or for African alphabets in italic/script
    style might render these characters more-or-less as the normal italic
    version of the character it most resembles in the normal Latin alphabet
    while rendering that normal Latin alphabet character in an oblique form
    with only the most minimal changes to fit italic style

    In such fonts U+0066, the regular _f_, would not have a descender when
    rendered in italic style.

    Does anyone know whether that is what actually happens?

    A case could be made that when variants of letters have become separate
    characters in versions of the Latin alphabet or linguistic use, Unicode
    should explicitly code both variants separately, not just one of them.

    But if users aren't demanding both forms explicitly, I would guess the
    current situation suffices.

    Jim Allan

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