[NTG-context] Typographical Engineering in Context

Idris Samawi Hamid ادريس سماوي حامد ishamid at colostate.edu
Sat Apr 3 19:00:19 CEST 2010

On Sat, 03 Apr 2010 10:31:07 -0600, Graham Douglas  
<graham.douglas at readytext.co.uk> wrote:

> Hello Idris
>  A chapter or appendix on the fundamentals of Unicode

We plan a special topic for unicode and opentype processing. Since this is  
mkiv only, all input will be utf-8 etc.

> A (big...) chapter on typesetting Arabic  would be great
> --- I've been self-teaching/studying Arabic for a couple
> of years, time permitting. I hope one day to use ConTeXt to
> write-up my study notes --- especially the formal grammar
> which is (need I say) vast!

I have written a few chapters for a supplementary monograph on scholarly  
typesetting, with a focus on Arabic-script typography. There will  
definitely be discussions of bidi and other language issues in TE though.  
Indeed, my intention is for the book to be bidi-neutral, so all structural  
elements are to be defined abstractly. This effort itself will lead to  
improvements in mkiv's bidi model.

>  It would be great to be able to document tools whereby you could
> mark-up any Arabic word (noun, adjective verb etc) to show certain
> parts in colour or add overbraces/underbraces etc. Colouring the glyphs  
> or other ways of annotating the Arabic text to help your own documenting  
> and understanding of the rules. I'm sure you know what I mean!!

News flash: it's already there! See attached.

>  Of course, it would be impractical to cover all possibilities
> but the core task of accessing the node lists (and (maybe) by
> attributes) to introduce special effects onto the Arabic glyphs.
> Tools to access the vowelling --- e.g., colour the vowels
> or add boxes around them etc --- purely for the purposes
> of aiding understanding/memory etc.

We will have a Special Topics section for some advanced things like this.  
The focus will be the high-level interface that Context already provides  
-- including for things you have described above. But we want to provide  
the foundation for readers who want to dig into the internals and do  
advanced typographic programming as well.

>  Anything that could help students/learners of Arabic to write really  
> well typeset notes, with the Arabic text "annotated" to highlight things  
> that you want to really stress.

Sure, good idea -- can be abstracted to include other langs as well.

>  Especially if it is some tricky point of grammar and you want to really  
> make sure you write a careful account of your hard-earned understanding  
> so you don't forget next time!!!

I taught a 2-semester course on Quranic Arabic last year, and I still want  
to author a modern approach to the topic of Quranic grammar. Maybe we can  
discuss that -- yet another book project!

Best wishes
Professor Idris Samawi Hamid, Editor-in-Chief
International Journal of Shi`i Studies
Department of Philosophy
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
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