Re: [unicode] fonts for vertical bopomofo stacks

From: Stephan Stiller <>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 10:36:20 -0700

> The vertical layout bopomofo in R. Ishida's blog is for the
annotation (ruby)

Non-ruby bomopofo is occasionally seen for vernacular Taiwanese
syllables, if they are unwriteable or any prescriptive character choices
are little-known. One can find this type of writing in advertisements,
lyrics tracks of Taiwanese-language songs, etc.

> but do you want to use vertical layout in bopomofo only text?

Vertical bopomofo stacks in horizontal (but not necessarily
bopomofo-only) text, in plaintext. While non-ruby usage is seen on
occasion, bopomofo-only text is rare but it does exist. Handwritten
notes by schoolchildren can for example use vertical stacks of
bopomofo-only text in horizontal directionality. Children's books that
use only bopomofo generally use vertical bopomofo stacks, and these
vertical stacks are arranged both in TTB (more common) and in LTR (less
common but not nonexistent) directionality.

Arranging bopomofo in vertical stacks
is indeed _preferred_ for left-to-right writing. (Though funnily, in
this example it would be okay to write 夯 instead of ㄏㄤ; that is: the
syllable has an occasionally used representation using a Chinese
character.) A purely horizontal style may be very common (and the
predominant one on the web), but this is definitely due to technical
limitations. That said, technology is changing traditions, as always.
Still it would be better for the average user to have both options

After a bit of research, I also think that the answer to my original
question is that fonts that produce vertical stacks are not easily
available. This is corroborated by the fact that various publicly
available government documents don't use vertical bopomofo in horizontal
text layout. So that would answer my question.

It's a gap in font design, and one which would be easy to fill, because
the stacks are of known finite height and the placement rules are

Received on Sat Sep 24 2011 - 12:39:15 CDT

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