[XeTeX] "new-babel", was: Ancient Greek hyphenation

Apostolos Syropoulos asyropoulos at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 21 20:29:44 CEST 2007

>I agree with Will that before creating an "xbabel taskforce" we should 
>certainly exchange some thoughts and do some serious brainstorming with 
>people like Javier Besos, Alexej and others. But I don't think we should 
>just simply revamp Babel to make it compatible with XeTeX. It would be 
>better IMHO to implement a package (or collection of packages) for 
>multilingual typesetting  with XeTeX that is as modular, light-weight 
>and flexible as possible. It should not impose rigid norms on the user. 
>I am no Babel expert, but what I know of it makes me believe Bruno is 
>right: starting more or less from scratch will probably pay off much 
>more in the long-run.

Omega Transformation Processes are the main tool to map input encoding
to some desired encoding that, for example, corresponds to some font
encoding. I have implemented some Lambda packages and in all cases
I have used OTPs for this purpose. If one uses a UCS-2 encoded input
file with Omega with a Unicode encoded font (OK not really Unicode font),
then I cannot really think of any reason to use OTPs. Thus, in my opinion,
the lessons learned from work on Omega are not really "applicable" here.
On the other hand, babel defines many commands which do not really
make any sense. For instance, the icelandic option defines a command to
typeset temperatures, which is really useless if your font supports the
Letterlike symbols part of Unicode. In other words, most of the features
provided by babel are now part of Unicode. This leads me to believe that
an xbabel package should define the necessary strings for each language
and provide mechanisms to load/unload hyphenation patterns. Only for
rare cases where certain characters cannot be easily accessed by some
combination of keystrokes, only then there should be character access
commands available. And of course other features should be activated
by using the appropriate font feature etc. 

*Apostolos Syropoulos                            
 GR-671 00  Xanthi, HELLAS *
*email     : asyropoulos (at) yahoo (dot) com                  *
*phone num.: +30-2541-028704                                   *
*home page : http://obelix.ee.duth.gr/~apostolo                *

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