Re: Glyphs for German quotation marks

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri Jun 16 2006 - 15:50:47 CDT

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    Andreas Prilop wrote:

    > No! Even in Futura and in Palatino Linotype, the glyphs of the
    > 66 and 99 quotes are different!

    But not at small sizes and low resolutions! (Yes, I can use exclamation marks too, but
    this is a conversation about quotation marks, so there is no need to shout). This is the
    point that Adam made right at the beginning of this discussion: that Verdana and Tahoma
    etc. are fonts intended primarily for use on screen, not at the high resolutions of print
    and not at the large sizes you are showing them in all your examples. So the question is
    the differentiation of these glyphs *when they appear as oblique monoline strokes*.

    > Most type designers don't know about U+2018 and U+201B.
    > They just think in terms of traditional 8-bit character sets
    > such as cp1252 and MacRoman.

    Are you a type designer? I am a type designer and I am also vice-president of the
    Association Typographique Internationale. The majority of my colleagues have been working
    with Unicode and OpenType fonts for at least five years, some of us for much longer. There
    is almost no 8-bit font development taking place any more. What is true is that a very
    large number of font developers follow Adobe's lead in OpenType character set support, and
    Adobe's fonts do not support U+201B. Adobe certainly are not ignorant of this character's
    existence; they've made a deliberate choice not to include it in their standard character
    coverage. And frankly I don't blame them, since it a) is clearly labelled as a glyph
    variant of another characters and b) invites users to hack text encoding to perform what
    should be a glyph substitution.

    >>You are objecting saying that, even for oblique monoline
    >>quotes, U+2018 and U+201B should never be identical, that the
    >>former should be / and the latter should be \.

    > I never said this!

    So what are you saying? Again, we're talking about small sizes and low resolutions -- the
    situations for which the Verdana and Tahoma fonts were designed. There are only these two
    pixel patterns to work with \ / -- which one do you think should be used for which characters?

    > I try again:
    > Make an apostrophe as you like it and put it into U+2019.
    > Rotate the apostrophe and put it into U+2018.
    > Mirror the apostrophe and put it into U+201B.
    > Lower the apostrophe to the base line and put it into U+201A.

    And if your U+2019 apostrophe looks like / at typical text sizes on screen, rotating it
    for U+2018 makes it look like... /

    That is the design issue that the makers of these fonts were dealing with.

    > I never said anything about the shape of an apostrophe.
    > Whether any of the above glyphs look (or are) the same,
    > depends on how *you* make your own apostrophe.

    Yes, I agree, and if your apostrophe looks like / at small sizes, then you have limited
    options for how to differentiate the rotated U+2018 form. As I wrote before, this is a
    glyph design problem when these characters are used in the German context. We agree on
    this. What we disagree on is the solution. Any approach that involves hacking the text
    encoding to achieve a desired glyph display -- whether for German or for other languages
    -- is a bad idea. The entire existence of U+201B is a bad idea. As Jukka wrote, there is
    probably an interesting story behind its encoding. Perhaps Ken Whistler might be able to
    tell us what it was. Remember, just because something is in Unicode doesn't mean that the
    Unicode Technical Committee *wanted* it to be in Unicode or thinks it is a good idea.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC
    I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget
    that words are the daughters of earth, and that things
    are the sons of heaven.  - Samuel Johnson

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