[luatex] About the level of bidi implementation

Idris Samawi Hamid ادريس سماوي ح Idris Samawi Hamid ادريس سماوي ح
Fri Apr 10 23:23:51 CEST 2009

On Fri, 10 Apr 2009 14:39:58 -0600, Yannis Haralambous  
<yannis.haralambous at telecom-bretagne.eu> wrote:

> Technically speaking you have the "Monotype Urdu font" (which is not
> really Nastaliq, but it does follow Urdu contextual analysis).
> Again technically speaking you have various "Nasta`liq fonts" using
> Arabic contextual analysis, in fact they are simplified Nasta`liq fonts.

I'm not sure if the distinction between Urdu and Nastaliq here is very  
useful, but more on that further on.

>> But maybe I misunderstand you: I get working nastaliq under
>> uniscribe... am I missing something? [I'd be happy for us to start
>> another thread on this topic]
> As you can see in the illustration below (taken from my book) Urdu
> contextual analysis has 7 different forms: isolated (not seen in the
> figure), initial (6), medial-odd (5), medial-even (4), pre-pre-final
> (3), pre-final (2) and final (1). If I should continue then I would
> have 1-2-3-4-5-4-5-4-5-...-6. The sample uses Nafees Nasta`liq.

This kind of contextual analysis is also used in sophisticated Naskh by  
the way, something which has rarely been implemented in typography as far  
as I know. [Thomas Milo does it, and
I'm working on it as well.]

> Well understood this kind of contextual analysis is not covered by
> Uniscribe so it has to be specially implemented.

Well, with reverse chaining substitution -- which you explain in your book  
as well :-) -- we can do it in OpenType on top of the traditional  
contextual analysis. I know because I've done it successfully ;-)

Which brings me back to my earlier point: Urdu is not a script category.  
The most sophisticated Nastaliq is still an Iranian art, and the style is  
used throughout the Arabic-script world. The variety of Nastaliq used for  
Urdu just happens to be well-suited for fast handwriting and book  
publishing [as you know, nearly all books/newspapers in urdu were  
handwritten till recently].

Note that Muslim Pakistan and traditional Muslim India is historically  
part of the Iranian cultural plateau. There are stll people alive who  
hearken to a time where Persian was the preferred medium of communication  
among the educated (The greatest literatur of Muslim India/Pakistan is  
Iqbal, who wrote his best work in Persian). The use of Nastaliq as the  
preferred style of Arabic script is an offshoot of Persian influence in  
that region. Calling it the "Urdu script" is simply not correct in my  
view. It is the style of Nastaliq used in Muslim Indo-Pakistan.

BTW: In Arab countries they call Nastaliq the "Farsi" script, even when  
using it themselves for Arabic. I also think this usage is incorrect. The  
name of the script is 'Nastaʿlīq', invented by Mir Ali Sultan Tabrizi (d.  
1416), a Persian calligrapher. It has always been known by that name  
through modern times. It is used throughout the Muslim world, and the  
vicissitudes of modern nationalism and orientalism -- calling it the  
"Farsi" or "Urdu" script -- should not obscure its universality as a style  
of Arabic-script proper.

Thanks for the response, and

Best wishes

Professor Idris Samawi Hamid, Editor-in-Chief
International Journal of Shi`i Studies
Department of Philosophy
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523

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