[XeTeX] New feature planned for xetex

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Fri Feb 19 11:18:57 CET 2016

2016-02-19 4:25 GMT+01:00 Kamal Abdali <k.abdali at acm.org>:

> On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 7:38 PM, Zdenek Wagner <zdenek.wagner at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> I have compared both and personally I like Jonathan's version. Of course,
>> I am not an expert. I do not have any collection of high quality Urdu
>> documents. I have only seen Mirza Ghalib's manuscript in his museum in New
>> Delhi and some Urdu documents in the museum in LaL Qila. My knowledge of
>> Urdu is very weak. Spoken Urdu is basically the same language as Hindi so
>> that I can listen to BBC Urdu and understand almost everything but reading
>> is difficult for me and I know nothing about calligraphy. It will take me
>> hours to read the sample text, I can only recognize from the title that it
>> is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Anyway, the larger interword
>> spaces do not help me toread the text.
>> As an example I am attaching the text from the Jama Masjid in New Delhi.
>> Look at the beginning of the first line. There is a considerable space
>> between آ and پ although آپ is a single word. The interword space between
>> آپ and جامع is smalle that the space in the middle of جامع and there is
>> almost no space between جامع and مسجد. There is no space between پر and
>> زیارت but I still can see the words. In the third line the largest space is
>> in the middle of پرکشش. Of course, it helped me to see the same text in
>> Devanagari, I would probably be unable to read the Urdu text without it.
> ​Zdeněk,
> If each word in Urdu (or in any language written using Arabic characters)
> formed a connected figure, then any amount of interword space (including
> zero) would be OK. But since some letters connect with the next letter and
> some do not, words often consist of two or more separate figures. Having
> interword spaces then helps to delimit each word. Stringing words together
> without any space between them is an incessant source of ambiguities and
> problems. That's why all scripts for the Arabic alphabet other than
> Nastaleeq now use interword spaces. This forum is not a place to go into
> more details, so I'll just give you two examples in the form of
> entertaining puzzles. Without interword spaces, you can read a certain Urdu
> text (word string) as:
> EITHER "He is eighty-four years old."
> OR "That thief is eighty years old."
> Another one can be read
> EITHER "Jamaloo was defeated."
> OR "Jumma went to Lahore."
> (Jamaloo and Jumma are both common nicknames.) New learners are constantly
> frustrated because the printed shapes in front of them provide no visual
> help in separating the words. Basically, the script assumes that you
> already know what you're trying to learn by reading!
> Again, I am not calling for a ban on tight kerning, but I am asking
> Jonathan to be flexible about interword spaces for anyone who wants it. At
> present most Urdu word processors make it very difficult to overcome
> interword space suppression in Nastaleeq fonts.
> Kamal Abdali

Hi Kamal,

thank you for examples, I see the problem of چوراسی and چور اسی without and
with the interword space. The spaces will be needed especially in textbooks
of Urdu and in dictionaries.

Could you, please, send me the second example in Urdu? It is interesting to
me. I can guess that the second sentece ends with حلاحور گیا  and by
similarity with Hindi I could imagine verb حارنا but then the first
sentence would end with حار گیا
The ending is thus different (حار versus حور) but as I wrote, I may be

I hope the first example in full is:
وہ چوراسی سال کا ہے،
وہ چور اسی سال کا ہے۔

Zdeněk Wagner

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