Re: identifying greek characters in an old book

From: John Hudson (
Date: Tue Oct 18 2005 - 11:56:03 CST

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    Raymond Mercier wrote:

    > Probably not, even though it is best not to multiply needlessly the various
    > glyphs. As you see from the first line here the tachygraphical form does
    > not
    > really derive from kappa+ ioto subscript, but from another line of
    > development that started with a sort of zigzag, and ended up with a form
    > like the one in Morgan's text.
    > At most I would argue for the encoding of those forms that were used by the
    > earliest printers, but ignoring the huge number of others that are found in
    > the long manuscript tradition. Unicode is meant for the printed text, is it
    > not ?

    Unicode is for encoding of plain text, regardless of whether the text in question
    originated in a manuscript or print or electronic context and how it is presented or
    displayed. So generally speaking there is no reason to encode any Greek ligatures or
    tachygraphical forms, since ligation is a display issue not a plain text encoding issue. A
    few years ago, I made a presentation at the ATypI conference in Rome on using OpenType
    Layout features in a Greek font to provide users with different levels of ligation (simple
    letter joining ligatures still recognisable to modern readers vs. full-on Byzantine
    cursive ligatures, most of which are unrecognisable to modern readers).

    I'm afraid I never got around to writing up the presentation, but I have put my slides
    online here:

    The presentation also included a live demonstration in Adobe InDesign, using the <liga>
    and <dlig> layout features to toggle the different levels of ligatures.

    The advantage of this approach, of course, is that the underlying text remains
    straightforward Greek encoding, and is searchable, sortable, etc. The kai ligature is an
    anomaly, like the Latin ampersand, in that it is a contracted form that has come to be
    used as a distinct character.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC
    *Note new e-mail address:*

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