[Fontconfig] asian font configuration

Keith Packard keithp at keithp.com
Fri Dec 10 07:02:10 EST 2004

Around 9 o'clock on Dec 9, John Thacker wrote:

> Therefore, 0406 and 0456 should be removed from or commented out of ru.orth


> How necessary are the accented characters for English?  I have a decent
> number of fonts designed to cover English but which lack the accented
> characters currently required (i.e., 00c0, 00c7-00cb, 00cf, 00d1, 00d4,
> 00d6, 00e0, 00e7-00eb, 00ef, 00f1, 00f4, 00f6).  My understanding of
> English orthography is that they are optional.

The problem with English orthography is that there is no authority upon 
which we can lean.  I adapted orthographies published by Michael Everson 
and others for our use, preferring to err slightly on the side of 
including more characters than would commonly appear to ensure that the 
bulk of English documents could be rendered in a single face.

I know in my own typographical history I've seen the slow increase in the
set of glyphs considered "necessary" for proper English publication; novels
which 30 years ago would have been published in essentially ASCII
(originating as they did on typewriters) are now starting to include
accented characters as a guide to both the etymology and pronounciation of
words.  Certainly common words like naïve or résumé are more accurately
spelled with the appropriate accents than without.

I did elide letters associated with older English spelling like Þ and ð; 
their use in modern English documents seems an anachronism.

So, I guess it's my cultural bias to encourage people to spell words right 
rather than spelling them as if they were using an IBM selectric 
typewriter.  It was not done randomly.

> (Similarly, we don't require the oe and especially the ae ligatures,
> despite their use in British spellings, and æ's presence in ISO 8859-1.)

I wanted to stick to just the orthography and not typographical niceties,
so I left out all ligatures, which is how I think these are used in English
(unlike in Danish where I believe the æ is treated as a separate letter).

Similarly, I had considered adding the conventional quotation marks for 
each language and decided to leave those out.

Obviously, a lot of this is up to the author of the orthograpy files
themselves, and in many cases there are no ideal answers. The goal of the
whole exercise is to identify fonts which can accurately reproduce the bulk
of documents in the given language, a much different goal that enumerating 
either commonly used letters or all possible letters.


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