Re: logos, symbols, and ligatures

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2007 - 20:53:13 CST

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    Michael Everson wrote:

    > Actually those rules work really well and reliably in Fraktur.

    But ligatures in fraktur writing perform a different function from ligatures in the
    Italian humanist bookhand that is the basis of roman/antiqua type. The forms of ligatures
    in fraktur are also different -- unsurprisingly, since differently created strokes can be
    expected to interact and connect in different ways -- and notably the form of the fraktur
    f does not have the same collision potential as the roman f.

    This is all fine, and I don't see any problem at all with different forms of scripts
    having different rules for ligation. Indeed, that makes eminent sense to me because it
    recognises that ligation is an aspect of writing style *not of grammar*. What seems silly
    to me is devising rules for ligation based on a particular style of writing and then
    insisting that those rules also apply for all other styles of writing of a given language.
    I don't think it makes any sense to say that there is or should be a single set of rules
    for ligation in German that is independent of script style. This is not to say that
    individual languages do not give rise to particular orthographic phenomena that require
    specific rules *within writing styles*. The presence of triple-f sequences in some German
    compound words is an example, as is the presence of semantically differentiated dotted and
    undotted i in Turkish. The latter has prompted some people to formulate the rule that fi
    ligatures should not be used in Turkish, because it is common in most types for the top of
    the f to swallow the dot of the i in this ligature. But the rule is mis-formulated,
    because if the form of a ligature in a particular style of writing or typeface design does
    not swallow the dot then there is no reason why one should not have an fi ligature in
    Turkish. Similarly, I don't think it makes sense to insist on general rules for German
    ligation independent of writing style or typeface.

    Of course, what this all implies is that handling of rules for German ligation should
    happen at a level somewhere well above text encoding -- just as Turkish ligation is --.
    where it can take into account the particular embodiment of the text, i.e. a font.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Gulf Islands, BC
    A bilabial velaric ingressive stop is essentially a kiss.
    -- Pullum & Ladusaw, _Phonetic symbol guide_

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