letters separated by markup & diacriticals

From: Peter R. Mueller-Roemer (pmr@cs.uni-frankfurt.de)
Date: Fri Jun 10 2005 - 08:04:20 CDT

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    >I wonder whether Arabic letters should join when they are
    >separated by markup. Here's an example:
    > http://www.unics.uni-hannover.de/nhtcapri/temp/nastaliq.html
    >Current programs display the letters separated by markup
    >differently: Internet Explorer 6 and StarOffice 7 join the
    >letters, but Mozilla 1.7 does not.
    This is an excellent example showing how irritating it is and how
    desirable uniformity of display / printed appearance is.

    Mozilla 1.7 does not violate any standard, so it is not illegal, but
    still undesirable to change to final-form letters.

    For *combining diacritical marks* it should be part of the *unicode
    standard*, that e.g. color-change (markup) of base-letter or any
    diacritic should not affect the composed character's shape. If one
    wants to de-emphasize the base-letter or use the dotted-O instead - as
    is done in the character charts for *combining diacritical marks* it is
    very annoying if OpenOffice, WordPerfect, Word and browsers behave
    differently or altogether refuse to combine in the desired way.

    Doulos SIL / Graphite Technology shows that keeping several diacritics
    separate rather than overstriking in outdated technology is not a
    technical impossibility. But it is not available yet with Arabic,
    Hebrew ... and with Greek letters it displays side-by-side accents
    (e.g. spiritus + accute accent) above each other.

    Before more isolated implementations do only partial jobs and add to the
    confusion, it is desirable to have *default-rules* for sequences of
    *combining diacritical marks *(that apply to all base-letters and
    pre-composed base-letters that do not have a pre-composed form). If
    the UTC feels restricted to impose such rules they could at least
    convene a committe of text-processor makers, to work on an agreed

    peter r. Mueller-roemer

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