[XeTeX] Syriac abbreviations, and issues with polyglossia, fontspec and bidi

Gareth Hughes garzohugo at gmail.com
Tue Dec 22 15:44:31 CET 2009

Khaled Hosny wrote:
> I just discovered this few days ago, it is annoying that fontspec 
> don't accept Script or Language in default font features.

I wonder if there is a technical reason why the Script and Language font
features cannot be made default, but I wouldn't have thought so. So that
makes me wonder whether it's oversight, or whether it was thought that
no one would want to default all text to Telugu, Arabic, Syriac or any
other script that needs these features enabled.

David J. Perry wrote:
> I don't think this is a font issue. ... I downloaded Serto Jerusalem
> and it does indeed display the abbreviation marker correctly in Word
> (2007, running under Vista SP1). I copied your example from the
> email and pasted into Word and also into Notepad -- that worked too.
> On Windows, Uniscribe handles such things; the fact that Syriac works
> in Notepad, which is a very basic editor with few capabilities of 
> its own, suggests to me that it's the renderer that handles this. 
> Maybe someone more familiar with ICU than I can address this.

Thank you, David, for you thoughts on this. I know the designer of the
Meltho fonts is a Microsoft evangelist, and so I think you're probably
right in saying that Uniscribe is what makes the SAM character work
properly. Of course SAM does not work in any of my Linux environments
(all Pango I think). It would be interesting to know if the character
works in DirectWrite (probably) and Graphite, and to know how XeTeX
handles this character. I know most syriacists working on Macs end up
using Mellel as their Syriac word processor. Does anyone happen to know
how that handles complex Unicode layouts?


Gareth Hughes

Department of Eastern Christianity
Oriental Institute
Pusey Lane

+44 (0)1865 615331

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