Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Combining Diacritics Continue

Tonight I am posting an image of Polytonic Greek with combining diacritics in Notepad. I chose Palatino Linotype, but all characters with diacritics are displayed in Microsoft Sans Serif.

Just to record a few thoughts. First, I had assumed a few days ago that I should use the extended Greek range for the combining accents for Polytonic Greek. Now I realize that these accents are in the combining diacritic range.

Second, I am not sure if Palatino Linotype does not combine or if it does not contain the accents to combine with. I dont know if the action and results would be different in every application. In Word, the whole sentence changed to Tahoma, so Word sensed a font that would work.

Ἄδμηθ', ὁρᾷς γὰρ τἀμὰ πράγμαθ' ὡς ἔχει, λέξαι θέλω σοι πρὶν θανεῖν ἃ βούλομαι

Here it is in blogger. In my preview window it looks great. This is the same thing that could not display properly in Word or Notepad.

I just went back to Word again and repasted it in. This time it displayed in Palatino Linotype but the accents were all out of place. Word must have a series of options for dealing with this situation. Don't laugh. These things have a mind of their own. Why did I ever decide that I should learn about combining diacritics. Someone tell me. And I am not complaining - I am just playing around seeing what's up and what people mean when they say 'combining diacritics'!

I keep pasting the same few characters into BabelMap and then into Word and every time I get a different result. Sometimes a mixed font, obviously mixed, sometimes a reasonably even font, but who knows what it is. And no I am not changing the font myself. I chose "Palatino Linotype" and the Word page is just doing its own thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that Word has its own type engine, and cutting/pasting with other Windows apps doesn't always work right. Notepad isn't even Unicode-aware as far as I know.


12:25 AM  
Blogger Denis said...

You should try with Worldpad or another SIL Graphite based editor. You could also try with Notepad with Uniscript. I've been told OpenOffice 2 on Windows should handle OpenType fonts and diacritics pretty well. Of course you have to remember that the font itself needs to define where diacritics go on each base character, it's not enough just to have them.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Denis said...

Sorry I mean Notepad with Uniscribe, not Uniscript; totally different thing.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that image I posted was in Notepad and it usually does a good job with Indic fonts, so Unicode and Uniscribe aware, I'm sure.

Thanks for the tip about the fonts needing to define where the diacritics go, Denis.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wish I could use combining diacritics on my site, but support just isn't up to speed yet for these. A few notes on this here:
various coding methods for tonal pinyin in Unicode Web pages.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

I hear that some languages need to use the combining diacritics to display all their letters and they are a little frustrated.

Fortunately I can just go back to precomposed letters for Greek with a little more understanding of the issues.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


For some study, you might like to have a look at the Microsoft Typography Web pages. They have been quite "calm", and essentially free of more-typical MS fancy page design. Recently, the headers seem to have been made fancier...

Try Googling on [microsoft typography]. "Feeling lucky" ought to work. I see by previewing that URLs are not allowed...


NB from Qalam

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi NB,

Thanks. URL's can be put in this comment section. I know that I once said I prefer to google than to use a URL ... that was then...

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


a couple of observations. To correctly display combining diacritics you need

1. an "appropriate" smart font, with OpenType, Graphite or AAT (if using MacOS)tables. For OpenType fonts you can use glyph substitution or glyph positioning. Glyph positioning seems to be Microsoft's prefered approach. The GPOS features need to be defined for each writing system, ie Latin, Greek, Cyrillic. Having a font with GPOS tables to handle mark positioning for Latin script isn't going to help with Greek.

2. a font rendering system that can handle combining diacritics. On windows the would be an appropriate version of Uniscribe.

3. an application that uses the necessary rendering system.

I haven't had much experience with combining diacritics with Greek text, most of my work is with languages that need combining diacritics with Latin script. So following comments are restricted to teh Latin script.

MS Office 2003 comes with its own version of Uniscribe (usp10.dll - Unicode Script Processor) which supports combining diacritics. Although the only fonts Micrsoft currently ship with combining diacritic support, are those they had developed to support the five Vietnamese tone markers. Windows Vista will ahve updated fonts. Some fonts like Doulos SIL and Code2000 have combining diacritic support.

For other unicode programs including web browsers, you require Windows XP, with service pack 2 installed (at least for Latin and Cyrillic script - need to check Greek support). SP2 updated the system version of usp10.dll

An alternative approach, both on Windows and Linux is to use a Graphite enabled version of Firefox. I've used this approach with the Doulos SIL font on recent installations of Ubuntu Linux, Windows 98 and Windows XP.

Antother possible approach may be to install Graphite support in pango (For those that use Gnome).

I'll play with Greek and see what happens.

With font swapping in Notepad that is probably Microsoft's font linking technologies, trying to select what they think is an appropraite font. Used ot be a painfull feature in older versions of MS Word, and someother MS applications. Maybe richedit related. Not sure.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew C,

Sorry to have left this so long. I do have winXP with MS Office 2003 but I haven't checked about the SP2 - actually I didn't know what it was until you spelled it out. Thanks. I have been playing around with the decomposed Polytonic Greek just to learn a few things. Curious. I have learned quite a bit although sometimes not what I expected!

I wasn't sure if combining diacritics was a Uniscribe thing or not. It will be interesting to see what is new in Vista.

I have given up trying to keyboard Vietnamese for a google search, so when I have to help our Vietnamese counsellor, I get him to use the English-Vietnamese online dictionary which gives Vietnamese output which googles with better results. That works for him since he speaks English perfectly.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

6:34 PM  

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