[XeTeX] Ligatures question

John Was john.was at ntlworld.com
Tue Jun 2 22:06:12 CEST 2009

I must be a non-resident classicist then!  But thanks for fleshing out the details.

I meant to add that ct, st, sh, Qu, and whatever other kind of ornamental ligs, swash caps, etc. are available are indeed just a matter of taste, and if you want a flamboyant effect, by all means go ahead (*trying* not to over-egg the pudding - it is the word-processor's disease to use every trick available, while typographers should exercise restraint).  But as should be clear, use of the ae/oe glyphs in Latin would diminish the edition in the eyes of those who are in a position to read the Latin in the first place.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: David Perry 
  To: xetex at tug.org 
  Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 8:10 PM
  Subject: Re: [XeTeX] Ligatures question

  As the resident classicist on this list, let me chime in.

  Ae and oe were ligated because they both developed into the sound /e:/, whereas earlier they had represented distinct diphthongs (as in the English words "high" and "oil" respectively).  During the middle ages and Renaissance, one not infrequently finds confusion between the two--oe printed for ae or vice versa.

  The Vulgate is nowadays usually not printed with these ligatures, and classical authors never, ever are (except, as others have noted, if one wishes to reproduce exactly the text of an old edition).  Using the ligatures suggests to the reader that the two are to be pronounced the same (as some people do).  But those of us who want to pronounce as the ancient Romans did don't use them.  For religious works, I suppose it comes down to an aesthetic issue, but their use will give the text a definitely archaic look.  Even Latin textbooks designed for use in Catholic schools (the ones I know, anyway) haven't used these ligatures for a very long time.


  Jun 2, 2009 06:16:57 PM, xetex at tug.org wrote:

    I am typesetting a bilingual Latin-Spanish work. For the Latin, I am using old-style ligatures ("st", "ct", etc.) and dypthong ligatures. I believe they look beautiful---even in a modern edition.
    I agree with Fr. Michael: of course not all combinations of "ae", "oe", etc., are dypthongs.

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