[XeTeX] XeTeX & sanskrit: which font

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Wed Aug 15 12:05:31 CEST 2012

2012/8/15 Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor at rhul.ac.uk>:
> Zdenek Wagner wrote:
>>  You can see demonstration on my page:
>> http://hroch486.icpf.cas.cz/freefont-devanagari/
> What /should/ be seen here, Zdeněk ?  As a non-Indologist, I may
> be missing something obvious (indeed, I probably am !), but I cannot
> see the difference in the two samples on my screen :
>> compare Sanskrit: शक्ति to Hindi: शक्ति (if everything works, you should
>> see the difference).
Unfortunatelly most (maybe all) web browsers cannot switch the
ligatures according the language, they use DFLT which is Hindi in
FreeSerif thus the Sanskrit KTA conjunct is not shown (firefox in my
Linux does not show it either). If you switch Language=Hindi or
Language=Sanskrit (I know the syntax in fontspec for XeLaTeX, I do not
know how to do it in plain XeTeX), you will see the difference. Thus
XeTeX is better than web browsers. I do not know whether MS Office can
do it. What can be seen in the samples is the correct spacing around
punctuation. Indic scripts require different spacing not only around
dandas and double dandas but also around question and exclamation
marks (these European punctuation marks are not used in Sanskrit but
are used in nowaday's languages). This is demonstrated only in PDF (by
mechanical replacement). Most Devanagari fonts have it wrong. If you
typeset an English text with GNU freefont, the question and
exclamation marks will be properly set according to the English rules
but when the script is switched to Devanagari, the same font will
produce correct Indic spacing. Steve White knew how to implement it,
big thanks to him.

Maybe one day web browsers will fully implement the lang and xml:lang
attributes and will be able to switch the language features.
> Philip Taylor

Zdeněk Wagner

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