Re: ligature usage - WAS: How do we find out what assigned code points aren't normally used in text?

From: Martin J. Dürst <>
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 11:16:11 +0900

On 2011/09/10 9:32, Stephan Stiller wrote:
> Actually, I *was* talking about purely typographic/aesthetic ligatures
> as well. I'm aware that which di-/trigraphs need to be considered from a
> font design perspective is language-dependent.

And this language-dependence is not only a question of letter
combination frequency, but also of aesthetic preference.

What I have heard very often is that Frenchs has a preference for using
many ligatures, whereas Italian uses almost none.

> But the point is that I
> observe that:
> (a) aesthetic ligatures are not frequently seen in modern German print and
> (b) the absence of such ligatures doesn't offend me (in modern German
> print).

I think part of that comes from the fact that with modern DTP, lots of
fonts are used across languages without any particular adjustments with
respect to ligatures. (This may not be the case for high-end order-made
fonts used by publishing houses, but it's certainly true for the
run-of-the mill Times Roman, Helvetica, and so on used on PCs.)

Typography is always an interplay between designer, reader, and
technology. So what probably happened is that the technology-induced use
of the same fonts across languages let to designs with less
language-specific ligatures (essentially lowest-common-denominators in
terms of ligatures) and to an adjustment of the designs so that this
infrequency of ligatures would be less visible. Also, you and other
readers got used to these designs.

Regards, Martin.

> It could be - and a quick visual check confirms this - that the fonts
> used for printing of {novels, school textbooks, tech/science books, ...}
> and the associated kerning tables don't necessitate ligatures or have
> traditionally (fwiw) not been seen as necessitating them. Enough
> professional publishing houses I _think_ don't use aesthetic ligatures,
> so that, whenever I do see them in German text, they stand out to me. So
> /de facto/ usage of aesthetic ligatures seems a bit like a locale
> parameter to me.
> That said - if I'm really factually wrong (and ligatures in modern
> German text are just so subtle and pervasive that I never took notice),
> people on the list please feel free to correct me.
> Stephan
> On 9/9/2011 4:14 PM, Kent Karlsson wrote:
>> I was talking about purely typographic ligatures, in particular
>> ligatures used because the glyphs (normally spaced) would otherwise
>> overlap in an unpleasing manner. If the glyphs don't overlap (or
>> there is extra spacing, which is quite ugly in itself if used in
>> "normal" text), no need to use a (purely typographic) ligature.
>> So it is a font design issue. (And then there are also ornamental
>> typographic ligatures, like the st ligature, but those are outside
>> of what I was talking about here.) But of course, which pairs of
>> letters (or indeed also punctuation) are likely to occur adjacently
>> is language dependent.
>> /Kent K
>> Den 2011-09-09 23:45, skrev "Stephan Stiller"<>:
>>> Pardon my asking, as this is not my specialty:
>>>> There are several other ligatures
>>>> that *should* be formed (automatically) by "run of the mill" fonts:
>>>> for instance the "fj" ligature, just to mention one that I find
>>>> particularly important (and that does not have a compatibility code
>>>> point).
>>> About the "should" - isn't this language-dependent? For example I recall
>>> that ordinary German print literature barely uses any ligatures at all
>>> these days (ie: I'm not talking about historical texts). And, has anyone
>>> ever attempted to catalogue such ligature practices? (Is this suitable
>>> for CLDR?)
>>> (I also recall being taken aback by the odd look of ligatures in many
>>> LaTeX-typeset English scientific documents, but I suspect that's rather
>>> because some of the commonly used fonts there are lacking in aesthetic
>>> design.)
>>> Stephan
Received on Fri Sep 09 2011 - 21:20:43 CDT

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