[XeTeX] Babel

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Fri May 4 12:45:51 CEST 2012

2012/5/4 Apostolos Syropoulos <asyropoulos at yahoo.com>:
>> German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Classical Greek, Modern
>> Greek, French, Plattdeutsh, Bahasa Indonesia, Vietnamese, Mongolian,
> Try to write Greek with babel and with XeTeX: babal is just pain in
> @$$ whilst XeLaTeX simply rocks! Do you understand now what I am
> saying?
It is not a big difference for me. I know Greek alphabet because it is
used in math but such knowledge is not sufficient to type the Greek
text as quickly as I can do int in languages that I know at least a
little (Czech, Slovak, Polish, English, Danish, Norwegian, Hindi).
When typesetting the text in Greek I got it from its author written in
the Symbol font and monotoniko accents marked with a pencil on a
printout. I wrote a simple program to convert it to transliteration
for use with LaTeX. The author of the text was ill, so he sent a
student to me to do proof-reading. The student saw TeX for the first
time in her life, yet she was able to understand the transliteration
within a few seconds and type anything that was necessary to correct.
Thus it seems that it is not that clumsy. At that time there was no
unicode support in text editors, so there was no other option. A few
year ago I had to insert one sentence from the New Testament. It can
be found on the web. I decided to install the Athena font and use
XeLaTeX so tha I can simply copy&paste the sentence from the web to

>> time by converting various symbols to macros. But do not tell me that
>> LaTeX is unsuitable for multilingual processing because it is not
>> true. I hope that the list of languages given above is large enough.
> It is unsuitable because it was not designed to be so! Typesetting
> Greek demands Greek fonts encoded in some stupid and archaic
> encoding and the use of some transliteration encoding files.
> If you call this "suitable", then I simply rest my case! Otherwise,
> just admit that TeX is unsuitable for multilingual typesetting and
> babel should remain there for reasons of backwards compatibility and
> that's all.
All the above listed languages were used in a single book and the DVI
was created by a single LaTeX run. It was not easy to combine
everything will all encodings and be sure that active characters will
not cause problems, but it was not that difficult. The biggest problem
was to find all characters for Mongolian and Ewe, because at that time
they were not available in the fonts. I had to create them.

Now XeTeX solves a lot of problems, active characters and weird macros
are not needed. Yet there are users in India who prefer to use
Velthuis Devanagari + old LaTeX + Babel. The basic definitions can be
almost shared between Babel and Polyglossia. I already have the Babel
module for Hindi, so I do not see any reaso why to stop its supports
if they are still users who demand it. I am happy that there is a
person to whom I can send my work and have it added to the official
version of Babel.

> A.S.
> ----------------------
> Apostolos Syropoulos
> Xanthi, Greece

Zdeněk Wagner

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