Request for Information

Asmus Freytag asmusf at
Thu Jul 24 15:35:34 CDT 2014

On 7/24/2014 10:45 AM, Whistler, Ken wrote:
> Fantasai asked:
>> I would like to request that Unicode include, for each writing system it
>> encodes, some information on how it might justify.
> Following up on the comment and examples provided by Richard
> Wordingham, I'd like to emphasize a relevant point:
> Scripts may be used for *multiple* (different) writing systems.
> Rules for justification of text are aspects of writing systems,
> orthographies, and typographical conventions -- and are not
> inherent properties of scripts.

The encoding of the Latin script is intended to be used for Fraktur. 
Fraktur, as used for German until the early 20th century is its own 
system, with its own rules. These affect justification and they are 
notably different from the rules used for German typeset in the modern 

For an easy to understand example, Fraktur has a commonly used form of 
emphasis by increased inter-letter spacing something that's rare or 
absent in other Latin-based writing systems. Because of its use for 
emphasis, it is not possible to use increased inter-letter spacing for 
justification. The counter example is US newspaper layout where this 
feature is commonly observed to help in justification of narrow columns.

(The use of letter-spacing for emphasis has not fully died out in 
German, though with modern computer typesetting bold and italic are 
easily available. For that reason, its use for justification is felt as 
jarring to many readers, because it would subconsciously be interpreted 
as randomly applied emphasis).

So, here you have a non-complex script like Latin, and two writing 
systems that fundamentally disagree on what is allowed, preferred or 
required for justification in certain contexts.

To make matters more interesting, Fraktur has required and optional 
ligatures, with the required ones staying together on letter spacing 
while the optional ones are broken apart. Fraktur typesetting will 
adjust the use of optional ligatures as part of the justification 
process, for jet another difference between it an other writing systems 
based on Latin.
> So while there may be strong tendencies for certain scripts to
> fall into certain typographical practices, including behavior for
> text justification, I don't think that information is inherent
> to scripts per se. And it would be misleading and gardenpathy
> for the Unicode Standard to try to treat justification as
> somehow inhering to scripts.
Well put.


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