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Re: [css-text] Arabic letters connecting between elements with display: inline

From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 24 May 2014 18:45:14 -0400
Message-ID: <1400971514.25912.250.camel@slave.barefootcomputing.com>
To: Ambrose LI <ambrose.li@gmail.com>
Cc: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>, Ben Wagner <bungeman@chromium.org>, "ntounsi@emi.ac.ma" <ntounsi@emi.ac.ma>, "matitiahu.allouche@gmail.com" <matitiahu.allouche@gmail.com>, "fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net" <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, "public-i18n-bidi@w3.org" <public-i18n-bidi@w3.org>, "www-international@w3.org" <www-international@w3.org>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Sat, 2014-05-24 at 14:31 -0400, Ambrose LI wrote:

> Someone correct me but as far as I understand all Arabic type is
> necessarily more or less cursive (structually speaking) and so technically
> speaking non-italic type should not exist. That I think is the real reason
> why "italics" are not used.

If you look in font catalogues you'll find bold and italic variants
listed for sale - e.g. Adobe Arabic Std, designed by Tim Holloway of
Tiro Typeworks in Vancouver. The italic slopes \ rather than /,
expectedly. This may be at least partly because of Western influence;
for sure the bold italic variants must be.

The etymology of Roman and Italic (which are themselves two words for
the same thing, and mean Coming from Italy, because of their
introduction by printers from Italy) is not I think the question here.
Both Latin Roman and the much later italic letterforms go back to brush
and pen strokes, even though the letters were subsequently carved into
stone or carved out of metal to make type.

Rather, it's whether Arabic joining and shaping can take place across
font boundaries, perhaps using shared OpenType metadata in a multi-font
TrueType Collection.

Roman/Italic is actually easier to envision for me than Roman/Bold,
because it would seem hard to get the stroke-weight to look right at the
boundaries.

There has been a lot of (mostly disconnected, I fear) research into
calligraphic type and type frameworks that might accommodate more of
what has in the past been done by hand for Arabic scripts. SIL
Scheherazade is an Arabic font using SIL's Graphite engine, but claims
to support only a simplified rendering:
http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=Scheherazade

We need not to specify things that are against preferred practice, but
we also need to avoid standardizing too early, when the technology isn't
yet there. And of course we (and people needing to use Arabic scripts)
need to push in the right direction, or push for research to find the
right direction. 

Liam


-- 
Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org freenode/#xml
Received on Saturday, 24 May 2014 22:45:26 UTC

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