Re: AW: Ligatures fi and ffi

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Wed Jun 01 2005 - 12:14:00 CDT

  • Next message: Jon Hanna: "Re: AW: Ligatures fi and ffi"

    On Wed, 1 Jun 2005, Hans Aberg wrote:

    > Suppose that we today started afresh, defining a universal character
    > set with the intent to enable semantically correct electronic writing
    > of natural languages.

    We won't, since we want to be compatible with existing bulk of data in
    digital format. But as a thought experiment...

    > The ligatures would not be needed to be added
    > at all, as long as there are simple rules for computing which
    > ligatures or other renderings to use, because it would be much better
    > to let the computer program to compute the correct rendering.

    No, that's not correct. The use of optional ligatures cannot be reasonably
    decided on algorithmic grounds alone. Whether you use a ligature for "fi"
    or for "st" is a stylistic choice. If you say that ligatures would not be
    needed at character level at all, you are saying that typographic styling
    must be handled elsewhere. While that's surely a possible view, and shared
    by many, it is far from self-evident.

    Drawing lines between orthography and typography is sometimes very
    difficult. It can well be argued that in English, the letter combination
    "ae" (in words of Greek or Latin origin) can be written as a ligature
    with no change in meaning, as a purely stylistic matter. On the other
    hand, in some languages, such a "ligature" is definitely a character on
    its own.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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