Re: Zhuyin font similar to Hangeul

From: Ed Trager (
Date: Tue May 12 2009 - 12:24:51 CDT

  • Next message: Behnam: "So much for accuracy!"

    Hi, Gerrit,

    That would be really cool if you can do it!

    Since standard Mandarin has only about 400-or-so combinations of
    phonemes that produce valid syllables, I guess you could create an
    OpenType font using ligature substitutions. You could then place tone
    marks to the right as you suggests as a normal spacing characters
    using regular horizontal layout. So your example, zhu4 yin, would
    result in 3 glyphs: a ligature, a spacing tone mark, and another
    ligature, looking something like this:

    ㄓ ㄧ
    ㄨˋ ㄣ
    1 2 3

    Someone with more knowledge of OpenType may be able to shed more light
    on this, but to the best of my limited knowledge, this would probably
    be the easiest way to do it. Creating a(n OpenType) font with 400+
    ligatures is certainly not that big a deal -- Indic fonts require that
    kind of thing all the time.

    You and others interested in this idea should certainly know about Dr.
    Hann-Tzong Wang's (王漢宗教授) traditional Chinese fonts now released under
    the GPL and available from the Chinese GNU/Linux Extensions 中文延伸套件
    (CLE) server at .

    Among the fonts, Dr. Wang produced several where the individual glyphs
    themselves contain zhu yin phonetics stacked vertically to the right
    of the Han character (Here is a link to a type sample image of his
    王漢宗中楷體注音 font:

    Wang's "zhu yin" fonts presumably are (or at one time were) used for
    typesetting educational materials at the primary and perhaps middle
    school levels. But of course these fonts have lots of limitations:

    (1) They only contain the common characters which will be encountered
    at the elementary school levels and

    (2) They only show a single pronounciation + tone mark combination.

    So their application domain is quite restricted. Even for standard
    Mandarin, several tonal pronounciations are quite common depending on
    the context of words and characters, and of course some characters
    have multiple pronounciations beyond just tone changes.

    And beyond that, such a font is useless for annotating dialectical or
    classical pronouciations. For example, my sample HWKaiMediumChuIn.png
    image shows an excerpt from the classical 千字文 Thousand Character Essay
    of ZHOU Xing-si 周興嗣 and it might be important to show classical
    pronounciation of such texts.

    Let me know (off list) if you plan to pursue such a project -- maybe I
    will help out.

    Best Wishes - Ed

    On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 3:20 PM, Gerrit <> wrote:
    > Hello,
    > I’m wondering if it is possible to make a font for zhuyin which behaves similar as Hangeul Jamo.
    > Currently, if I type ㄓㄨˋ ㄧㄣ, it will be displayed in a line, with the tone mark after it. This not only does not look very nice, but also is too long.
    > I thus wonder, if I can create a font which stacks the characters on top of each other and then puts the tone mark at the right. I guess, the method would be similar, or even identical, to Hangeul. But, Zhuyin characters are not designed by Unicode to behave like that (at least as far as I know). I wonder, if I can create a font with this behaviour nonetheless.
    > I think, this would be possible by creating many ligatures, but this is not convenient and does not allow to create customized syllables, so the Hangeul method would be better.
    > Does anyone know something about this?
    > Thanks,
    > Gerrit

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue May 12 2009 - 12:29:16 CDT