Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

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Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby sokuban » Wed 22 Apr 2009 12:54 am

In unicode, there are many glyphs that are shared for use by multiple languages. Only problem is, often times each language has a national variant. The idea is that people use a specific font for the national variant of the glyphs you wish to display, but this causes lots of problems for polyglots.

Especially for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The problem is, that since there are so many Chinese Characters, most fonts tailored to a certain language do not cover glyphs from other languages. So if you set a Japanese font as your system font, all the Chinese characters that aren't used in Japanese fall back to a Chinese font, which really looks weird since you have text with 2 different fonts. Even worse is that some fonts (*cough*Kochi Substitute*cough*) display some Chinese characters are a garbled mess/dots. So if it is set to the system font, then it is impossible to even read Chinese filenames as it isn't falling back to a proper Chinese font and is using Kochi's garbled mess.

I'm looking for a font, or a set of fonts that go together well that would cover the entire CJK range and look good. Preferably a free font, but I don't really care anymore. As long as it is freely/easily obtainable I'll probably be happy.

Thanks.
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Re: Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby Neqitan » Thu 23 Apr 2009 1:15 am

CJK at once? So far I've seen none. You can download the standard set of CJK fonts from Microsoft though, but those being the standard fonts, not anything fancy.

I remember seeing a download of special fonts for Simplified Chinese in Microsoft's site too but I couldn't find it... However, you can easily build up a collection of CJK fonts looking them up in the Internet.
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Re: Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby sokuban » Thu 18 Jun 2009 7:19 pm

I have found a temporary solution, that isn't perfect, but is pretty darn good, and beats everything else I've been doing up until now.

iYaHei

You could google for it and find it (I forgot where I got it). It isn't the prettiest font, but it is much better than Arial MS Unicode and has lots of glyphs. Missing some special characters; stuff like Hakka or Chu Nom aren't there, and there is no hangul either—but that isn't much of a problem. (I use hangul from malgun gothic, which goes together with it fairly well.)

I still need a serif solution though, iYaHei is sans serif.
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Re: Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby formiko » Fri 19 Jun 2009 3:26 am

ᏙᏒᏓᎵ ᏗᏑᎶ ᎭᏫ
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Re: Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby sokuban » Fri 19 Jun 2009 4:20 pm

I have heard of that font, but I was reluctant to try it because pan-unicode fonts aren't always good. I tried it now, and I must say it is terrible.

Though it does have lots of glyphs, and I guess it is kinda readable. I think I'll look for another serif solution though. MS serif fonts look better and go together better than code 2000 does. (And that means code 2000 is doing really bad, because the MS serif fonts don't go together very well.) Code 2000 looks like it is supposed to be a serif font, but some CJK characters are non serif too. It looks really ugly since the font doesn't go well with itself. (It looks like the characters are taken from different fonts.)

Still, I tossed code 2000 (and 2001 & 2002) into my fonts folder so in case I ever encounter some extremely rare glyph (CJK or not) I'd see it, because it seems code 200X has more glyphs than anything else.
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Re: Fonts for the polyglot (specifically CJKV)

Postby sokuban » Sat 20 Jun 2009 2:22 am

Neqitan, I don't think you understand the problem I had. I wanted a font (or set of fonts) that covered the entire CJK range and all the glyphs matched.

The site you linked has a very poor collection of fonts. Those were the old popular [free] fonts, and now there are lots of better [free] fonts. However, in both of cases the glyphs do not match.

Now that I've fixed it, I can't get a good example of a pic where it is horrible, but here is a simple example:

Image

Notice that the typeface for some of the glyphs is different from the rest? This is because the Chinese fonts only have glyphs required for Chinese, the Japanese fonts only have glyphs required for Japanese and so on. I guess this would work out if every single time you used CJK text, the system had a way of knowing which language it was, and use the appropriate font. This is possible with HTML, though not always properly implemented. (Most sites set a lang variable at least, which makes the whole site in the correct language, but I've only seen a multilingual page use the correct language for different instances of text in some - but not all wikipedia pages.) The worst part is on your own computer. Folder/files in a file manager, or songs in a music player. In these cases it is generally impossible for the computer to know which language it is. So on a primarily Japanese system, a folder with a Chinese name might have a few characters in a different typeface from the rest. This is very annoying.

Now of course none of this is a problem if you only know Chinese, or only know Japanese, etc. You just install the font of the language you know and you are done. But if you need to use multiple CJK languages, you either have to use a font that covers multiple CJK languages (many of which, such as Arial MS Unicode, Bitstream CJK/Cyberbit, or Code2000 are very ugly), or use individual fonts that look somewhat okay together (hard to find), or just deal with it all.

And in my second post, I talked about how I found a chinese font (iYaHei) that covers enough glyphs to be used for most CJK languages.

Right now I use iYaHei as my primary system font for CJK glyphs, and malgun gothic for Hangul - this works fairly well. Of course I still have individual fonts for each language/regional variant installed as well, so when I visit a Japanese website or need to type up a Japanese word document those fonts get used instead of iYaHei. While the Japanese text on my system ends up being in a Chinese style, this isn't much of a problem, because it is still readable, and is not ugly. (In most cases it isn't necessarily wrong Japanese either, it is just that the "Japanese" forms are the most common.)
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