Re: Medievalist ligature character in the PUA

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Mon Dec 14 2009 - 11:50:51 CST

  • Next message: Leo Broukhis: "Re: Medievalist ligature character in the PUA"

    On Dec 14, 2009, at 1:48 AM, William_J_G Overington wrote:

    > Would it help if some precomposed ligatures were included into regular Unicode?

    No, no, no. Absolutely not. There was enough controversy within the UTC over allowing the use of ZWJ and ZWNJ in for Latin ligatures.

    By and large, ligatures in languages which use the Latin script are stylistic choices, needed for high-end typography, and font-specific. The intent of letting ZWJ and ZWNJ be used in conjunction with Latin ligation was to allow for the exceptional cases where ligation *must* be done (or else the semantics of the text would change) or where ligation *must not* be done (ditto; see TUS 5.0 p 537). That is to say, in cases where the ligation control is *not* needed for nice typography, but is needed in plain text.

    From what I've read in this thread, we're dealing with a case where people reproducing medieval texts can't find all the ligatures they need to reproduce the visible content of the texts in the fonts they want to use. If medievalists are able to send texts to one another via plain-text email and understand what the text is supposed to be, then these ligatures don't belong in plain text. The people to bug would be the font vendors.

    The Latin ligatures that are already there are for round-trip compatibility *only*. It screws up all kinds of text processing if they are actually used for ligatures in plain text. (Think spell-checking and sorting, if nothing else. And should an OS treat "My file" and "My file" as the same file name?) Adding more would create all kinds of headaches. It would be a very, very Bad Thing and the UTC would need truly overwhelming evidence that *not* having a large number of additional precomposed Latin ligatures creates significant problems greater than the ones adding them would create.

    John H. Jenkins

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