[XeTeX] Having correct hyphenation for multiple languages in the same document

François Charette firmicus at ankabut.net
Tue Jul 20 10:19:50 CEST 2010

  On 20/07/2010 09:29, Ulrike Fischer wrote:
> (Languages are not symmetric regarding fonts: For latin scripts you
> need normally 3 font families (for \rmfamily, \sffamily, \ttfamily)
> while greek seems to use only one.)

There are Greek, Arabic and Hebrew fonts that can be used to match \sffamily and 
\ttfamily. In scholarly or non-technical contexts they are of little use, but for a 
computer textbook entirely written in, say, Arabic, Hebrew or Greek, such font families 
may be indeed used in a way similar to Latin scripts. (Whether or not this is considered 
good practice in a particular context is another question of course).

In polyglossia they can be defined for instance as \greekfonttt and \greekfontsf. But as 
Apostolos rightly says, it is far better to use one font that provides Latin and Greek 
(also true of Cyrillic and other "similar" alphabetic scripts).

For other scripts such as Hebrew this is not always possible however, and in many cases it 
is not even desirable. The question whether a single font can be used for two or more 
scripts of very different nature with a single harmonious design is a matter of hot debate 
among font designers. I have at home a whole book devoted to Arabic typography and font 
design which illustrates how one font can provide Arabic and Latin in which both scripts 
share most visual features and blend together in harmony. This may be a legitimate 
endeavour in the context of advertisement or corporate visual identity, but for other 
purposes this objective is quite ill-founded.


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