Re: Glyphs for German quotation marks

From: John Hudson (
Date: Fri Jun 16 2006 - 21:56:17 CDT

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    Kent Karlsson wrote:

    >>>That's what happens now all the time in German texts with
    >>>Courier [New] and Verdana! The German Usenet and German web pages
    >>>are full of complaints about this since many years! That's how
    >>>this thread started!

    >>Yes, and to solve the German problem you want to force
    >>everyone else to perform this kind of text encoding hacks.

    > No, not at all. Only you seem to suggest that.

    Andreas did specifically say that if e.g. English users want the form of opening quotation
    mark used for U+2018 in Verdana then they should encode the opening quote as U+201B. I'm
    not just suggesting that. This is what he wrote:

            Actually, I have seen such quotation marks in English-language
            books printed in Britain and the USA. But, as I wrote, they are
            certainly not preferred. *If* you want such quotation marks,
            then please use U+201B for them!

    My point in response was that there is a desire to differentiate the opening and closing
    quotes, and when either design or resolution limitations reduce the rendering of oblique
    quotes to a monoline direction of slant becomes the only way to make this differentiation.

    > I don't think that the rotated form needs to be different
    > from the unrotated form in all fonts.

    Nor do I. I was pointing out that there is a design decision and some font developers have
    made a deliberate choice about the differentiation of opening and closing quotes. I also
    pointed out that this practice is also reflected in and, presumably, originated in

    >>or providing language-specific glyph variants.

    > No thanks. That is bound to fail.

    There is no reason why it should other than laziness on the part of application
    developers. There has been a robust font-side solution for a decade now and there are
    thousands of OpenType fonts language system tags and <locl> variant lookups.

    >>which has the same encoding as the Arabic comma but is a
    >>mirrored form of the Latin comma. There is neither a need nor a
    >>desire for separate encoding for these glyph variants.

    > I think very much that is desired. Otherwise we could use just plain
    > ASCII comma for the Arabic comma, Armenian comma, and Ideographic
    > comma.

    Let me rephrase: there appears to have been no interest from Sindhi computing experts
    (there is an active community) in proposing a Sindhi character for encoding. There are
    also differences to Sindhi shaping of some Arabic letters, but there also seems to be
    little interest from the user community in proposing these as separate characters.

    We seem to be going around in circles here, so let me try to sum up how I see this topic:

    I do not disagree with Andreas at all that the results of the design decision in the fonts
    to which he objects are bad for German. Other contributors with an intimate knowledge of
    German typography have indicated that the results are not as bad as Andreas states, but I
    am agnostic on this point: I'm quite prepared to accept what he says. All I have tried to
    point out is that there are good general reasons why some font developers in some fonts,
    especially fonts for a screen environment, have chosen to use what even the Unicode
    standard identifies as a 'glyph variant' of U+2018 *as* a glyph form for U+2018. However,
    since some such fonts are intended for broad multilingual support, including German
    support, this decision may not be a good one in this specific context. There are a number
    of solutions to this, and all of them are font design and glyph-level solutions. None of
    them need to involve anyone using U+201B for any purpose; indeed, there are very good
    reasons for not using this character, as major font software developers such as Adobe have
    chosen to do.

    That's about all I have to say on the subject. If Andreas or anyone else would like my
    help in explaining to font developers why a left slanting glyph for U+2018 is not a good
    design solution for a multilingual font, I'll be happy to do so. But I would do it without
    any reference at all to U+201B, which as far as I am concerned has not been shown to have
    any good reason to exist.

    Regards, John

    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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