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Old 07-05-2020, 11:56 PM   #1
Uncle Robin
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Ligature love?

This is a genuine question, one that's puzzled me for a long time:

One of the most common complaints I read here about the Kobo is its display of ligatures. This seems like a REALLY big deal to a lot of readers, and I'm wondering why. When I read Hindi, if its "ligatures" (matrae) are presented as di/trigraphs, that is annoying, but my understanding of English ligatures are things like "Š" - are they really so common as to be problematic by their absence?

Last edited by Uncle Robin; 07-06-2020 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 07-06-2020, 04:49 AM   #2
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It's true that Š and œ are now unusual in English. But these are only ever displayed if they are entered as the ligature character. It's not correct for software to display every 'ae' as Š.

But the much more common ff, fl, fi, ffi and ffl should be displayed whenever they occur in text for good looking typography.

Last edited by pdurrant; 07-06-2020 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
It's true that Š and ť are now unusual in English. But these are only ever displayed if they are entered as the ligature character. It's not correct for software to display every 'ae' as Š.

But the much more common ff, fl, fi, ffi and ffl should be displayed whenever they occur in text for good looking typography.
Thanks, so it is about Šsthetics.
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:35 AM   #4
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Thanks, so it is about Šsthetics.
Yes, that's it.
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
It's true that Š and œ are now unusual in English. But these are only ever displayed if they are entered as the ligature character. It's not correct for software to display every 'ae' as Š.

But the much more common ff, fl, fi, ffi and ffl should be displayed whenever they occur in text for good looking typography.
I find Š more common than any other the et version of & is I think more common than any of the f*? I don't even remember seeing any f* ligatures, except in books or articles on ligatures or Calligraphy (which I used to do).

Separate letters should never be re-rendered as ligatures, except in handwriting. Or unless you are proof editing and Š or œ is actually more correct. The main reason for ligatures originally was manual script or representing non-Roman-Latin letters. Now the Š and œ can sometimes indicate a different spelling or pronunciation.
Typewriters (common by the end of the Victorian era, but not when Dickens started writing) killed ligatures, though the ■ Ů had been replaced by yY or th Th in English when typesetting came in (15th C?). I'm not sure actual English used the ­ đ still in Icelandic, but earlier Anglo-Saxon may have.

The Š as originally different letter or pronunciation: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...ore-180961328/
So sometimes it represents the 'Ash' rune.

The œ as originally a different letter / pronunciation:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%92
Sometimes a Scandinavian ° or ÷ is written as œ in English texts, which may be from a Rune. It's also sometimes representing a Greek letter.

The Scandinavian Runes mysteriously are later developments of the Latin Alphabet, whereas the proto-Celts / Early Celts (not Irish Celts) maybe 1000+ years earlier used an Etruscan derived alphabet with Greek letters and different sound values to some letters that look Latin. Maybe ALL alphabets /abjab except in South America and environs come from Aramaic or similar. Even ones in Asia.

I think most of the f* family of ligatures are from script handwriting.

I'd only use Š and œ in a few words that some people would recognise and never any other ligature. Ironically by the late 1980s when it became easy to do accented letters, ligatures and Icelandic letters that where common in ENGLISH texts either before 19th Century or the 15th Century, they had become obsolete. Same with the lovely traditional Irish lettering and alphabet that had even been on typewriters before WWII. The special a, d, g, s, r and dotted letters, also i with no dot, so it wouldn't be confused with Ý. The Irish alphabet, even had its own version of & (like a 7, but from 'agus', not ampersand which is really the Latin 'et', the '7' like symbol instead of & is still used on modern signs in Ireland). English school kids used to learn '&' as the last letter of the alphabet, it's a stylised version of the Et ligature.

Last edited by Quoth; 07-06-2020 at 08:28 AM. Reason: Calligraphy
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Old 07-06-2020, 08:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
It's true that Š and ť are now unusual in English. But these are only ever displayed if they are entered as the ligature character. It's not correct for software to display every 'ae' as Š.

But the much more common ff, fl, fi, ffi and ffl should be displayed whenever they occur in text for good looking typography.
I guess I don't understand what a ligature is? Is it just squishing letters together? I just did a search for the word "official" in the book I'm reading on my Kobo Aura HD, and it definitely looks to me as if the "ff" is squished together, although the dot over the "i" does not blend into the top of the "f" (which, not that I look at it, I don't really like, anyway). The book is in kepub format, and I'm reading it using the Gill Sans font. Am I misunderstanding the problem?

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Old 07-06-2020, 09:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quoth View Post
I find Š more common than any other the et version of & is I think more common than any of the f*? I don't even remember seeing any f* ligatures, except in books or articles on ligatures or Calligraphy (which I used to do).

Separate letters should never be re-rendered as ligatures, except in handwriting.
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I guess I don't understand what a ligature is? Is it just squishing letters together?
The f* ligatures are very common, and will be used in any printed book. And good rendering system for English text on a computer should also be using them.

A ligature is a glyph representing one or more characters. The & character is now a separate character in its own right. As are Š and ť in practice.

Some fonts also include ligatures for other character combinations, such at st, ft , ch, ck, ct, Qu and Th

The reason for these "stylistic ligatures" as wikipedia calls them is that the glyphs of the separate letter will overlap or be too close unless replaced by a special character.

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Old 07-06-2020, 11:23 AM   #8
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I guess I don't understand what a ligature is? Is it just squishing letters together? I just did a search for the word "official" in the book I'm reading on my Kobo Aura HD, and it definitely looks to me as if the "ff" is squished together, although the dot over the "i" does not blend into the top of the "f" (which, not that I look at it, I don't really like, anyway). The book is in kepub format, and I'm reading it using the Gill Sans font. Am I misunderstanding the problem?

Shari
If You want to see on Your Kobo the effect of ligatures read a Kepub (no ligatures) and a Epub (ligatures) using for example the font embedded in the firmware Caecilia or Amasis and checking fi ffi fl ecc. To see better the difference You can increment the size of the font.

IMHO Amasis is much better with ligatures but can be read also without them while Caecilia without ligatures is very bad.

Not all fonts have ligatures, I could be wrong but as I can check from what I see Gill Sans has no ligatures.

Last edited by ps67; 07-06-2020 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 07-06-2020, 11:47 AM   #9
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If You want to see on Your Kobo the effect of ligatures read a Kepub (no ligatures) and a Epub (ligatures) using for example the embedded font Caecilia or Amasis and checking fi ffi fl ecc. To see better the difference You can increment the size of the font.

IMHO Amasis is much better with ligatures but can be read also without them while Caecilia without ligatures is very bad.

Not all fonts have ligatures, I could be wrong but as I can check from what I see Gill Sans has no ligatures.
Ok...if it's true that Gill Sans has no ligatures, and kepub has no ligatures, then I have no idea what I'm looking at. I can say that from pdurrant's post, I truly dislike the ligatured fi combination, because it completely eliminates the dot over the eye.

I also have to say, though, that since I have never noticed ligatures (or the lack thereof) in 50 years of reading, they don't make any difference in the level of enjoyment I have when reading a book.

Shari
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Old 07-06-2020, 01:34 PM   #10
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I also have to say, though, that since I have never noticed ligatures (or the lack thereof) in 50 years of reading, they don't make any difference in the level of enjoyment I have when reading a book.

Shari
Ditto!
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Old 07-06-2020, 01:34 PM   #11
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I also have to say, though, that since I have never noticed ligatures (or the lack thereof) in 50 years of reading, they don't make any difference in the level of enjoyment I have when reading a book.
I do notice ligatures or the lack of them but I suspect that I am in a rather small minority. You don't meet that many people who would use terms such as x-height. stroke, stem, finial, slab vs. Didone, etc. in conversation or who still have an em ruler aka pica pole hanging beside their worktable at home.

OTOH, the story is the thing. Good typography can't save a bad story though bad typography can make reading a good story slightly less enjoyable.
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Old 07-06-2020, 01:37 PM   #12
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Most ligatures, I can take or leave. I prefer them as to me they make the book look better, but whatever.

But the non-ligatured fi just looks ugly with some fonts (Georgia for instance). The dot above the 'i' overlaps with the 'f' in a way that just looks ugly, like a computer glitch.
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Old 07-06-2020, 01:47 PM   #13
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What can be weird or interesting is how some font designers will create ligatures that aren't the usual suspects. E.g., a swash thing at the top connecting s and t; I think I saw that in a font by Goudy. I find those rather distracting.
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Old 07-06-2020, 01:47 PM   #14
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Most ligatures, I can take or leave. I prefer them as to me they make the book look better, but whatever.

But the non-ligatured fi just looks ugly with some fonts (Georgia for instance). The dot above the 'i' overlaps with the 'f' in a way that just looks ugly, like a computer glitch.
I suspect that would be poorly done kerning.
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Old 07-06-2020, 02:41 PM   #15
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I do notice ligatures or the lack of them but I suspect that I am in a rather small minority. You don't meet that many people who would use terms such as x-height. stroke, stem, finial, slab vs. Didone, etc. in conversation or who still have an em ruler aka pica pole hanging beside their worktable at home.

OTOH, the story is the thing. Good typography can't save a bad story though bad typography can make reading a good story slightly less enjoyable.
Which is why I read in ePub (RMSDK) and not KePub because I notice the problems with the typography in Access (KePub).
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