[tex-hyphen] hyphenation different in xelatex?

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Fri Sep 4 22:54:32 CEST 2015

On 2015-09-04 at 17:23:48 +0200, Claudio Beccari wrote:

 > In facts, I understood exactly that, but the core of my message was
 > ti stimulate our German friends of Dante to get rid of that
 > archeological file that now is beeing used for pdfLaTeX in order to
 > maintain (?)  compatibility with TeX 2.x that does not exist any
 > more.

Are the old patterns actively maintained anymore?  Supporting TeX 2
might add a bit of complexity to the code but who cares if it works?

The new patterns are definitely much better than the old ones because
every word is carefully checked by TeX users from Austria, Germany,
and Switzerland.  The emphasis is on "TeX users" because I fear that
everybody else is not careful enough.

However, the old patterns are definitely usable.  There are probably
more words which need manual intervention.  The new patters require
manual intervention too if ambiguous words are involved.  The meaning
of the word "Wachstube" entirely depends on the context.  "Wachs-tube"
and "Wach-stube" are completely different things.  Hence manual
intervention cannot be avoided completely, neither with the old nor
with the new patterns.

Thus I fully agree with Karl's statement:

 > FWIW, I think changing hyphenation in (pdf)latex for any commonly
 > used language would cause far more problems that it would help.
 > Messing around with {xe,lua}latex is one thing -- it's reasonable
 > to break compatibility there.

Claudio, you said that it doesn't matter whether a paragraph is
formatted slightly different.  But it can be extremely painful if the
number of lines of a paragraph is not the same as before.  This can
lead to different page breaks.

IMO it's best to freeze the old patterns and use them with the old
engines by default in order to preserve old documents.  XeTeX, LuaTeX,
or any other program with a major version number < 1 can and should
make use of new developments.

I think that one of TeX's biggest strengths is that you can compile
old documents at any time and always get exactly the same results.

I always believed that my diploma thesis got lost, we used floppies at
that time.  But I unexpectedly found my LaTeX files recently on a CD.
They compiled like a charm after more than a quarter century.  I was
quite surprised that it worked perfectly with LaTeX-2e, which even
didn't exist at that time.  There was no need to modify any file.

I'm convinced that TeX's most important advantages are backwards
compatibility and portability.  Under no circumstances should we give
them up.

It *is* possible to use the new patterns with old engines.  AFAIR
Heiko provided the code.  The point is that you have to state
explicitly in your document which patterns you want to use.  This is
much better than to silently replace the patterns in the format file.

Moica, of course it's more work to maintain the old and new patterns
at the same time.  But can't the old patterns be simply declared as
being frozen forever?


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de

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