[XeTeX] Ligatures question

Benct Philip Jonsson bpj at melroch.se
Wed Jun 3 12:20:11 CEST 2009

I got the impression your intention was to make a
facsimile of some Renaissance or early modern
print.  That would be the (only) proper context
for using æ and œ in Latin text. The medievals,
and a good deal into the 16th century mostly just
wrote e.  I have a reproduction of a 16th century
woodcut where PRELIVM figures prominently.  OTOH
in an atlas of the 17th century it's æ (and some œ
-- it's less frequent in the language) all over.
IMHO the question one must ask is "how did the
author of the text pronounce his Latin?"  Of
course with late Ancient texts that question is a
bit moot; the modern consensus is however to use
unligatured _ae, oe_ in ancient texts even of the
late period.  With Renaissance and early modern
texts I guess the choice would be to reproduce the
usage of the Vorlage or to normalize to
unligatured spelling. Personally I'm leaning in
the facsimile direction. A normalized text can be
mendacious at times, but honestly typography may
be the least problem there -- editors correcting
grammar is much worse!

BTW late ancient inscriptions tended to use OE
where AE would be correct by classical standards.
It's usually thought to have been just an
orthographic fashion.  As an historical linguist
one may expect misspellings with OE for Ē or Ĭ and
AE for Ĕ, but AFAIK none occur -- at least not to
any significant degree.

Then there is the spelling _cœlum_ for _caelum_,
ubiquitous in Renaissance and early modern sources
and due to a mistaken association with Greek
_koilos_.  Should such things be 'normalized'
when editing a text of that period?  Answers
may differ, but there sure is no straight one.

Nicolas Vaughan skrev:
> I'm sorry, but I´ll have agree with Fr. Michael. I doesn't seem wrong,
> neither aesthetically, nor grammatically, to use these kinds of ligatures.
> If nowadays there have gone out of fashion, or if there doesnt seem to be
> any more use for them, I don't mind at all. I have typeset several Latin
> language editions using these ligatures and they seem beautiful---and the
> publishers for whom I've worked also seem to like them.
> And what would be the beauty of [Xe]LaTeX --- to quote Dario Taraborelli ---
> without ligatures?
> Best wishes.
> Nicolas
> On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 4:21 PM, Fr. Michael Gilmary <
> FrMichaelGilmary at maronitemonks.org> wrote:
>>  John Was wrote:
>>  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.
>> Thanks to John and David for the update for us non-classicists! The edition
>> of the Nova Vulgata that I use doesn't use those lig/digs, nor do the
>> various editions of the Sisto-Clementine Vulgate.  But an early 20th century
>> edition of St. Thomas (ST and SCG as well as his commentaries on Scripture)
>> /do/ use them.
>> It's interesting what David said about the confusion of the two ae/oe ...
>> I've often wondered about that (coelum vel caelum ?) Personally, I like the
>> archaic look.
>> As for the exceptions list, it proves helpful at least for enabling the use
>> of the diaeresis for correct pronunciation (mostly, it's for proper names,
>> as mentioned).
>> --
>> United in adoration of Jesus,
>> fr. michael gilmary, mma
>> Most Holy Trinity Monastery
>> 67 Dugway Road
>> Petersham, MA 01366-9725

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