[XeTeX] Ancient Greek hyphenation

Alexej Kryukov anagnost at yandex.ru
Fri Apr 20 20:21:25 CEST 2007

On Friday 20 April 2007 18:26, Will Robertson wrote:
> Indeed...And anyone thinking of doing this should talk first with
> Javier Bezos, whose Mem (nee Lambda) package for Omega is designed
> for such a thing. The package is not available for XeTeX, but he's
> thought more about the problems than anyone.

Well, my Antomega package does just the same thing, and I think it
is better than Mem at many aspects :)

However, there is a serious difference between Omega and XeTeX. With
Omega most language-specific features have to be implemented using
Omega's translation processes (OCP). These translation processes are
very powerful by itself, but they have their own specifics: in
particular, in order to use OCP's effectively, we usually should avoid
TeX active characters in the input stream. For this reason Antomega
focused mainly on adapting OCP's for those tasks where active characters
have been traditionally used (e. g. Babel shorthands), so that
OCP-related stuff actually represented the main part of the whole

XeTeX, however, has no translation processes (instead it takes
advantage of font-specific "smart" features) and thus it doesn't
require special TeX code to handle them. This also means there is
no special reason to exclude Babel's code based on making some
characters active. That's why, to my mind, Babel in its present state 
has nothing principially incompatible with the principles on which
XeTeX is based (which is not the case for Omega or Aleph), so that
creating a special language support package is essentially not needed.

Indeed, Babel's Greek language module cannot be used with XeTeX
and should be replaced with something different, but this is just the 
problem of that particular module, which is strictly bound with
one particular font-specific encoding. On the other hand, in 
Russian/Cyrillic modules all language-specific strings are defined
as sequences of text commands, so that those modules can easily
be adapted to any input encoding, and only minimal changes are
required to make them fully compatible with XeTeX.

That's why, I think, instead of creating a completely new xbabel the
community should focus on improving existing Babel modules by removing
some features inherited from very old times which now bring unnecessary
complexity into typesetting documents not only with XeTeX, but even with
standard (pdf)latex. Just one example: the French language module
currently assumes that French guillemets are unavailable in the default
Latin encoding and attempts to take them from very old Cyrillic fonts,
thus making impossible mixing, say, French and Russian in the same
document... But, of course, this is a completely different story.

Alexey Kryukov <anagnost {at} yandex {dot} ru>

Moscow State University
Historical Faculty

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