From: Hans Aberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jun 01 2005 - 13:54:17 CDT
At 20:14 +0300 2005/06/01, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> 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.
I think that historically, the choice has in part
been dictated so certain common combinations
within each language, as well by the fact that
keeping a large number of glyphs is expensive,
and possibly cumbersome in printing.
>If you say that ligatures would not be
>needed at character level at all, you are saying that typographic styling
>must be handled elsewhere.
Right. It could be handled by a separate
rendering character font, which could very large,
just as the Unicode set. Or, as I pointed out,
they could be added within the character set,
possibly as a special type of Unicode characters.
One can also think of developing smart fonts,
that can compute ligatures automatically.
>While that's surely a possible view, and shared
>by many, it is far from self-evident.
There are several possibilities, and one needs to
think carefully before choosing one model over
>Drawing lines between orthography and typography is sometimes very
Right. Humans like to blend contexts in ways hard to transport to computers.
>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
One should note that every ligature can be given
a semantic use, namely by quoting it directly,
like in the sentence 'An example of a ligature is
"Þ" [ligature fi]'. Perhaps textbooks in Arabic
want to name those ligatures and different letter
representations explicitly. Many glyphs can thus
made into semantic objects, by simply
-- Hans Aberg
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