Re: AW: Ligatures fi and ffi

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Thu Jun 02 2005 - 04:08:13 CDT

  • Next message: Hans Aberg: "Re: Ligatures fi and ffi"

    At 22:34 -0400 2005/06/01, Mark E. Shoulson wrote:
    >Donald Knuth and TeX did many things, but
    >solidifying the fi ffi etc. ligatures isn't
    >among them. Typefounders already had made those
    >the foremost ligatures in ordinary
    >Humanist-based typesetting centuries earlier.

    He put it into computers, trying to be as
    accurate as possible with existing typesetting
    practises of English. I do not know whether he
    was first with that on the computer side.

    >>>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.
    >>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 "" [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 objectifying them.
    >That isn't a use, that's a mention. And it doesn't count.

    You may feel so, but others may feel different.
    In Arabic script, a lot of alternative letter
    forms have been already added. Even if each
    semantic Arabic letter would have been mentioned
    just once, letting a renderer to sort it out,
    Arabic writers might not have been happy with the
    situation, as they could not use Unicode to write
    books about writing Arabic.

    >Yes, it's important to be able to handle such abuses of orthography

    So it is not really abuses, but common practise.
    One will not be able to tell how many trees are
    needed to make up a forest.

       Hans Aberg

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