old Polish and Unicode (was: Variation Sequences (and L2-11/059))

Janusz S. Bień via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Fri Jul 20 05:41:01 CDT 2018

I apologize for sending by mistake the previous post with no new

On Thu, Jul 19 2018 at 17:47 +0100, wjgo_10009 at btinternet.com writes:


> I found the following.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Polish_language

Thanks again for your interest in Polish language.

There is also


To make a long story short, this is just a mess. Looking for a good link
to recommend I just found


which seems worth looking at (but the multimedia version doesn't work
for me).

I used to recommend the paper


which unfortunately it seems no longer available on the Internet.

> WJGO >> So you could if you wish try to make your own font
> JSB >Actually I tried:
> JSB > https://bitbucket.org/jsbien/parkosz-font/
> Thank you for the link to the font. I have studied the font in the FontCreator program (version 8).

Please revisit the site, I just added some links and comments. This
project is now orphaned. 

> I remember that I produced an OpenType font using Variation Selectors
> and OpenType Glyph Substitution back in April 2017. I wrote about it
> and provided a link to the font and a link to a typecase document.
> https://forum.high-logic.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7033
> Although that font is about chess, I am thinking that that is the sort
> of font that is needed for what you are wanting to do. This could use
> variation selectors or could use circled digits as desired.

Thanks for the link. I think I will do some tests with XeLaTeX.

> I am a researcher and I am looking for a worthwhile project related to
> typography in which to participate from time to time - no money
> charged, no money to pay - and I am interested in printed books of the
> incunabula period and the early sixteenth century.
> I do not know any Polish, but I do not need to be involved in choosing
> which glyphs are needed, so my not knowing any Polish would not seem
> to be a problem.

Please feel free to take over the font for Parkosz's treatise, if you
wish to.

I think another interesting challenge is "Nowy Karakter Polski", a 16th
century treatise comparing several proposals of Polish spelling, which
uses various strange characters. You can find the scan in various places
and in various format, e.g.


The treatise is used as one of the important sources used by the
dictionary of the 16th century Polish language:


The only English language presentation of the dictionary seems to be

Luto-Kamińska, A. (2017). Several words on the dictionary of the 16th
century Polish language.

unfortunately behind a paywall:


The history of the dictionary is long and sad. The work started in 1949
(!)  and after the initial enthusiasm and generous funding the team had
to struggle with various difficulties; in the consequence the dictionary
is still unfinished but the work continues, although rather slowly.

In my unpublished presentation


I show how the editors managed quoting "Nowy Karakter" (slides
26-35). Look like in the time of hot type the strange letters has been
written by hand, and there was a regress when the dictionary started to
be typeset on computer.

In my presentation I made some suggestions how to use Unicode for "Nowy
Karakter" (slides 40-69). Unfortunately the dictionary editors were not
interested in the proposal (there had at the time much more important

Not long ago the team received long-awaited grant for computerizing the
work on the dictionary, in particular for creating a corpus of 16th
century texts. Looks like the corpus was prepared rather in a hurry and
there was no time or money to develop a faithfull rendering of "Nowy
Karakter". The work exists in the corpus in two forms:

PDF: http://rcin.org.pl/publication/82568
HTML: http://spxvi.edu.pl/korpus/teksty/JanNKar/

I must say that for a typical user of the dictionary the solution
applied is probably a good one. The spelling has been modernized but the
occurences of strange characters has been marked with color in PDF, and
in HTML additionaly with some information displayed when you hoover over
the appropriate fragment of the text.

This solution is however not applicable to e.g. quotations in a research
paper when color is for some reasons not allowed.

So encoding "Nowy Karakter Polski" in Unicode and providing a font for
it is still in my opinion an interesting open problem.

Cf. also the thread


BTW, I was definitely too optimistic...

Best regards


Janusz S. Bien
emeryt (emeritus)

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