Re: Zhuyin font similar to Hangeul

From: Gerrit (
Date: Tue May 12 2009 - 11:05:21 CDT

  • Next message: Ed Trager: "Re: Zhuyin font similar to Hangeul"

    Am Montag, 11. Mai 2009 schrieben Sie:
    > Yes, but it would be difficult to do. It would be equally possible to
    > do that with English letters and equally difficult. The main problem
    > is that you're dealing with a script which wasn't designed to be
    > combined into syllabic units (unlike hangul, which was so designed).
    > Since this is never done in actual practice, you'd be entirely on your
    > own to figure out how these characters would interact typographically.

    Well, I was just thinking about this because correct positioning of Zhuyin is not well supported in software.

    As far as I know, correct positioning should look like this:

    But: Support for vertical positioning is still very limited in software, and even if that would be supported, the tone mark would not appear at the right, but instead at the bottom.

    Instead I thought about arranging the glyphs in the font. If you see the entire syllable as one block, similar to hangeul, it would, I think, very much work the same way:

    In Hangeul, you have initial, median, final and the “length“ of the syllable is variable (although my knowledge of Hangeul is only basic).

    e.g.: ㅎㅏ ㄴ → 한

    compare Zhuyin: ㄓㄨˋ (zhù)

    very much the same actually, initial (zh), “median” (u) and “final” (4th tone)

    Now the difference would be, that for Hangeul, you need explicitely coded initials and finals, because syllables do not have a breaking character in between. I guess if you would write
    ㅎㅏ ㄴ|ㄱㅡㄹ → 한글, you would not need these different initials and finals, because the rendering engine would see that the syllable is only until the | bar.

    Similar, in Zhuyin, as far as I know, you always type a space after a syllable:

    ㄓㄨˋ ㄧㄣ

    Like this, the engine would know that it should combine ㄓㄨˋ to one syllable and ㄧㄣ to another. Also, the maximum number of characters in one syllable is 3, as far as I know (with the exception of 兒, which sometimes makes it 4 characters long).

    This would make it quite easy to define a ligature feature in the font and just get everything combined. But: I guess the amount of syllables in Mandarin is about 400? + 4 tones for everything. This is just too cumbersome to design it for everything syllable.

    Also, if, like William Poser has written, you use it for writing other languages (like Taiwanese and such), the possible combinations would be even more.

    Because of this, I wonder if I can create a font which does the alining automatically. I guess, I would have to shrink every character to 1/3 of the full size and define some rules. But I don’t know if the method of aligning the characters for Hangeul is only a font feature or some feature of Unicode (or the renderer, respectivily) itself. As far as I know, the characters don’t change their appearance. This entire idea is just to cope with not sufficient software support :)

    For why I would do that:

    I know Zhuyin isn’t used in the actual text. But it is still used to show the pronounciation of the character, which you still need ;) If such a font existed, it would be quite easy to use it in websites, vocabulary lists, etc. In HTML, you could just write <span lang="zh-Bopo">ㄓㄨˋ ㄧㄣ</span>, define in CSS that for every zh-Bopo, this special font should be used and it would be displayed in the webbrowser beautifully stacked on top for every syllable :) This would also be much more readable, I guess. Also, in, say, vocabulary lists, this saves space. If you compare the length of Pinyin and Zhuyin, this will become clear:

    ㄓㄨˋ ㄧㄣ


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