Re: Berber/Tifinagh (was: Swahili & Banthu)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Sun Nov 09 2003 - 20:07:20 EST

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    At 08:54 AM 11/9/2003, Philippe Verdy wrote:

    >Yes that was the intent of my suggestion, I don't say that this must be
    >done. But what would be wrong if a font was created for the Tifinagh script
    >that would display Latin-based glyphs with diacritics rather than historic

    This sort of thing -- one of my type design colleagues uses the term
    'masquerading' -- is fairly common in the world of 8-bit encodings, most
    often with glyphs for non-Latin alphabets masquerading in an ANSI Latin 1
    character set. So all you are really suggesting is having Latin glyphs
    masquerading as Tifinagh characters. The problem with this is that it
    misleads users to assume that the text is encoded as Latin characters, so
    they switch fonts because they want to use a different Latin typeface, or
    they send the document to another user thinking they have lots of Latin
    fonts that will display it, and then wonder why it isn't working anymore.

    I've given a lot of thought to transliteration and transcription at the
    glyph level: we've even made fonts with custom a OpenType Layout feature
    that transliterated Inukititut syllabic characters to Latin equivalents
    using glyph substitution. And my conclusion is that transliteration and
    transcription should be hanlded at the character processing level, not at
    the glyph level. Apart from anything else, handling it at the character
    level, e.g. in word processor macros, gives greater freedom and flexibility
    to the user. Users should be able to display Berber text in Latinised form
    using any font on their system that includes the appropriate characters;
    they should not be tied to displaying in a single font that happens to have
    Latin glyphs masquerading as Tifinagh.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    I sometimes think that good readers are as singular,
    and as awesome, as great authors themselves.
                                           - JL Borges

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