[XeTeX] Ligatures question

John Was john.was at ntlworld.com
Wed Jun 3 13:54:51 CEST 2009

The specific case of reproducing an early edition would of course be an 
exception (and perhaps likewise even a first edition of a Neo-Latin text 
found in manuscript).  With classical texts one tends to work on the 
assumption that readers will want to have everything harmonized into a form 
that would have been adopted by scriptoria of say the first or second 
century AD.  I wouldn't myself cope very well with a text of Plautus which 
used Plautus's spelling (no double consonants for a start)....

But there would be considerable problems in replicating what amount to 
linguistic errors or misconceptions from the Renaissance period.  Would you 
want to print 'illustreis' just because some humanist scholars thought that 
was the right form?   (Cf. Lambinus' edition of Lucretius!)

The important thing, though, is that  those involved in producing such work 
(authors and typesetters) understand the issues, which I hope have been 
clarified enough to let people see that it's not just a matter of personal 

I rather think we've run out of typographical (as opposed to scholarly or 
aesthetic) points to discuss on this question!


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Benct Philip Jonsson" <bpj at melroch.se>
To: "Unicode-based TeX for Mac OS X and other platforms" <xetex at tug.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:20 AM
Subject: Re: [XeTeX] Ligatures question

> 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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