Re: Questions on ZWNBS - for line initial holam plus alef

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri Aug 08 2003 - 21:01:53 EDT

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    At 05:27 PM 8/8/2003, Kenneth Whistler wrote:

    >Because the mechanism for doing so -- application to SPACE or
    >to NBSP -- has been specified by the standard for a decade now.

    True enough, but I'm also a bit concerned about this mechanism because
    white space characters are another pesky thing that not all applications
    paint. TEX, perhaps most famously, uses its own 'glue' instead of the space
    glyph in the font. And what happens when word spacing is expanded or
    contracted in text? The diacritic mark ends up being shoved to the left or
    right of where it should be. Of course, if the space glyph is not painted
    you have to rely on blind offsets for mark positioning, because unpainted
    glyphs can't be found for smart positioning lookups. As someone who cares
    about typography, I don't like blind offsets because they don't offer
    precise enough control: I would much rather have a mechanism that I can
    reliably and precisely use with glyph positioning lookups. I'm not
    suggesting that the use of space/nbspace for this purpose should be
    deprecated, only that an alternate mechanism would be useful for those who
    want more control of how combining marks are rendered on a blank base.

    A similar but not identical issue was raised by Peter Constable when we
    were talking about Qere vs Ketiv readings in Biblical Hebrew. There are
    cases in which vowels are applied to ellided consonants, which in some
    texts results in marks applied to a blank base in mid-word. In this case,
    my concern about using space or nbspace is that these imply a word break
    where there is not, in fact, any break in the word: the blank base is part
    of the word.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    The sight of James Cox from the BBC's World at One,
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