[Fontconfig] Overly aggresive English orthography?

John Thacker thacker at math.cornell.edu
Tue Dec 14 09:26:54 EST 2004

On Mon, Dec 13, 2004 at 12:22:21PM -0800, Keith Packard wrote:
> Around 14 o'clock on Dec 13, Owen Taylor wrote:
> > If you aren't using Pango-style language tag refinement, this causes
> > some bad problems, see, e.g.:
> > 
> >   https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=107952
> Well, that's just a symptom of a more serious issue -- that selection of 
> glyphs beyond the orthography of the current locale is driven by font 
> suitability for the locale.

That is part of it.  The problem is that there are several possible goals
and situations.  There are two different approaches.  One is to render
an entire document with a single font when possible.  Another approach is 
to render different orthographies in a single document with the "best"
font for each orthography/language.

There are cases where the first approach looks better (a combination of
non-accented Latin characters and Japanese, all contained in one Japanese
font), and cases where it looks worse (a particularly varied combination 
of glyphs that are only all contained by an ugly "fallback" font of last 
resort, like MiscFixed).  It's pretty easy to come up with other examples,
too:  imagine a document mostly written in English that contains a few 
words of foreign origin using accents outside the list currently provided 
in en.orth.  Many people would like view the entire document in a single
font, rather than switching fonts just for those words, especially if 
extra glyphs are related to the Latin alphabet.

E.g., if I'm reading something in English which suddenly quotes Dutch
and uses ij or references a Welsh placename and uses ŵ, then maybe I just
want the whole document to use Verdana, which contains both, rather than
using Luxi Sans for everything except the words containing those two 
letters, even though Luxi Sans is normally my first choice for English.

Another big problem is that the Unicode standard treats fullwidth
(doublewide) Latin characters are part of the Latin alphabet, and as
inappropriate for Japanese, Chinese, etc.  This is despite their use
being almost completely limited to Far Eastern languages in my experience.
For that reason, Pango doesn't allow 'ja' language tags on the fullwidth
Latin character, AIUI.  In any case, Japanese fairly frequently contains
unaccented Latin characters, and the fonts reflect that.  However, 
fontconfig and Pango conspire to prevent Japanese fonts from ever using
their Latin characters.

John Thacker
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