Re: Unicode & Shorthand?

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sun Sep 19 2004 - 09:25:59 CDT

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    From: "Christopher Fynn" <>

    > Philippe Verdy wrote:
    >> Not really, because the actual rendering is bidimensionnal, not linear.
    >> It's difficult to predict the line height, as the baseline changes
    >> according to the context of previous characters in the word, and its
    >> writing direction (forward or backward).
    > Phillipe
    > As Werner mentioned, this is like Nastaleeq. All the things you mention
    > are rendering issues - not character encoding issues - and not very
    > different from things necessary to render some other complex
    > scripts. As long all these changes are based on contextual rules they can
    > be handled with a fairly simple encoding once the essential "characters"
    > that make up the script are determined.
    > regards

    I do agree that this shorthand method looks very much like Arabic, but my
    answer was really about making a difference with IPA. This is clearly not a
    pure phonetic notation, it has its own orthographic conventions, as well as
    very unique rendering rules, which make systems capable of rendering Arabic
    not enough to render shorthands.

    Your precision about Nastaleeq is correct, as this is the nearest script
    with which the standard French shorthand script looks like. But even with
    Nastaleeq there's a clear concept of a baseline that helps rendering it in
    an acceptable way. Rendering French shorthand on a constant baseline would
    be inacceptable: There's a baseline defined only for the begining of words,
    not for each individual character, and this left-to-right baseline is
    visible for the whole text, but only because words are very often
    abbreviated (there are also specific symbols for common abbreviations, and
    often articles or particles are not written, but if needed some functional
    suffixes are added).

    My mother learned that script in the early 60's and used that throughout her
    carrier for her work as a secretary in a juridic domain. In many cases, most
    words are abbreviated by noting only the first 1 or 2 lexemes, and adding
    eventually a functional suffix. Not all words need to be noted, and she also
    used some personal abbreviated symbols for her most recurrent terms.

    The script is really compact: a single A5 sheet of handdrawn shorthand was
    enough to note more than 2 A4 page of typesetted text (in Times our Courrier
    12 points). She was able to note more than 120 words per minute, to note
    conversations with several participants such as public meetings, discussions
    about juridic problems, negociations... She still used a magnetic tape, for
    the case where she would have forgotten to note some terms or if there were
    cases where she could not remember the exact meaning of some items, but she
    rarely needed to use it to transcript the noted text back to a typesetted
    form (using the shorthand notes was even more practical than using
    dictaphones when typesetting it in a word processor later, as she had an
    immediate global view of the sentences to type).

    I have always been impressed by her ability of noting so many things in a so
    compact form and so fast.

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