[XeTeX] Status of babel and polyglossia in xelatex

Vladimir Lomov lomov.vl at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 02:45:49 CET 2009

On Wed, Dec 09, 2009 at 12:55:34 +0100, Ulrike Fischer wrote:
> Am Wed, 9 Dec 2009 19:29:11 +0800 schrieb Vladimir Lomov:

> >>> I want to try fontspec features :). I know that babel uses fontencodings
> >>> while this is not neccessary for xelatex (is it?).

> >> Xelatex needs fontencodings too but as it is unicode orientated and
> >> can handle large fonts it doesn't to switch between fontencoding so
> >> often.

> > Hm, I thought that _because_ xelatex could handle large fonts it doesn't
> > need fontencoding at all! Where fontencoding could be used in xelatex?
> > May be in math mode?

> Yes, there too. But also in some special cases when symbols are
> involved which are not in unicode (e.g. chess symbols). 
> But don't forget that unicode is an encoding too! So even if you
> type only simple text there is at least one font encoding involved
> (fontspec uses the name EU1 in this case). 

Thank you for you clarification :).

I have experience how to make font available in (pdf)latex and I saw
code of inputenc/fontenc/babel where they use font switching.

As I understand (pdf)latex needs font encoding (and font encoding
switching) because of lack of font support: fonts used by latex could only
have 256 glyphs. So I thought if xelatex are Unicode based latex engine
then it haven't this problem.

But you are right, in any case when xelatex uses a font (by means of
fontspec) it (indirectly) uses some font encoding. Nevertheless I think
that xelatex is less dependant on font encoding than (pdf)latex.
If xelatex user could insert directly Unicode character in a document
(text only) and font used by document has such glyph there shouldn't be

AFAIU, in (pdf)latex packages babel, inputenc, fontenc are very strongly

Afternoon, n.:
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