Re: Dutch IJ & the austrian stamp's encoding

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Thu Jan 19 2006 - 06:45:03 CST

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    On Wed, 18 Jan 2006, Doug Ewell wrote:

    > When you say IJ is a ligature, do you mean simply that the two characters I
    > and J constitute a single letter in the Dutch alphabet, or do you really mean
    > they are joined together with no visual space in between? That is what
    > "ligature" means.

    The word "ligature" means different things to different people. It can
    1) an typographic combination where two or more characters are
        rendered as a single glyph (I think this, rather than spacing,
        is the essential thing here), such as the common ligature of "f"
        and "i"
    2) a character that originates from a ligature in sense 1 but
        is regarded as an independent character, such as ""
        (at least in Danish and Norwegian)
    3) something between 1 and 2, such as the character called "oe ligature"
        in French.
    The Unicode standard does not always make it clear whether a code position
    indicates a character of ligature origin (case 2) or just a typographic
    ligature (case 1) that has been coded for compatibility reasons. I think
    this is wise policy, partly due to the existence of intermediate cases,
    partly because the same coded character (such as "") can be used both
    as an independent character and as a typographic ligature - especially
    if we consider historical texts.

    Regarding the identity of the ij ligature, it seems to be an "in between"
    case, at least in the sense that some people regard it as a character,
    some people as a typographic ligature. But it is hardly a purely
    typographic feature. I suppose that if you print Dutch text, the way
    you handle "ij" in Dutch words does not necessarily dictate the way
    you print "ij" in words in other languages.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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