Stylistic Alternates for ച്ച, ള്ള in Manjari and Chilanka fonts

The ligatures for the Malayalam conjuncts ച്ച, ള്ള have less popular variants as shown below

The second form is not seen in print but often in handwritten Malayalam. I have seen it a lot in bus boards especially at Thiruvananthapuram. There are no digital typefaces with the second style, except the Chilanka font I designed. It uses the second variant of ച്ച. I got lot of appreciation for that style variant, but also recieved request for the first form of ച്ച. I had a private copy of Chilanka with that variant and had given to whoever requested. I also recieved some requests for the second style of ള്ള. For the Manjari font too, I recieved requests for second variant.

Today I am announcing the new version of Manjary and Chilanka font, with these two forms as optional variants without the need for a different copy of a font. In a single font, you will get both these variants using the Opentype stylistic alternatives feature.

The default styles of ച്ച and ള്ള are not changed in new version. The fonts comes with an option to chose a different form.

Choosing the style for webfonts using CSS

Use the font-feature-settings CSS style to choose a style. For the element or class in the html, use it as follows:

For style 1:

font-feature-settings: "salt" 1;

For style 2:

font-feature-settings: "salt" 2;

Choosing the style variant in LibreOffice

In the place of the font name in font selector, append :salt=1 for first style, :salt=2 for second style. So you need to give Manjari Regular:salt=2 as the font name for example to get second style.

Choosing the style variant in XeLaTeX

fontspec allows to choose alterate style variants. Use Alternate=N syntax. Note that N starts from 0. So for style1, use Alternate=0 and for style2 use Alternate=2. Refer section 2.8.3 of fontspec documentation.

\documentclass[11pt]{article}
\usepackage{polyglossia}
\newfontfamily{\manjari}[Script=Malayalam]{Manjari}
\begin{document}

\manjari{\addfontfeature{Alternate=1}കാച്ചാണി, വെള്ളയമ്പലം}

\end{document}

This will produce the following rendering:

Choosing the style variant in Inkscape

Inkscape font selection dialog has a feature to chose font style variants. It uses the property values of CSS font-feature-settng.

In Adobe, Indesign, selecting the ligature will give stylistic alternative(s) if any to choose.

Updated fonts

Updated fonts are available in SMC’s font download microsite https://smc.org.in/fonts

Libreoffice Malayalam Hyphenation

I had developed and released hyphenation extension for Malayalam in Openoffice years back. Libreoffice was born later. Eventhough libreoffice supported the openoffice extensions, the extension repository is freshly created for libreoffice. The old extensions were not present in the libreoffice repository.

Now, I have uploaded the Malayalam hyphenation extension in libreoffice extension repository too. I will explain the installation and configuration step by step in this blog post:

All Operating systems

  • Download an extension and save it anywhere on your computer.
  • In LibreOffice, select Tools -> Extension Manager from the menu bar.
  • In the Extension Manager dialog click Add.
  • A file browser window opens. Navigate to the folder where you saved the LibreOffice extension file(s) on your system. The extension’s files have the file extension ‘OXT’.
  • Find and select the extension you want to install and click Open.
  • If this extension is already installed, you’ll be prompted to press OK to confirm whether to overwrite the current version by the new one, or press Cancel to stop the installation.
  • After you are asked whether to install the extension only for your user or for all users. If you choose the Only for me option, the extension will be installed only for your user. If you choose For all users, you need system administrator rights. In this case the extension will be available for all users. In general, choose Only for me, that doesn’t require administration rights on the operating system.

Debian and Ubuntu

The above steps works for Debian and Ubuntu too. But there is a better way. Using your package manager install hyphen-ml package. This will install hyphenation not only for libreoffice, but for typesetting packages like LaTeX.

Using the hyphenation

  • To automatically hyphenate the current or selected paragraphs, choose Format – Paragraph, and then click the Text Flow tab.

    LIbreoffice Hyphenation
  • To manually Hyphenate Single Words, click in the word where you want to add the hyphen, and then press Ctrl+Hyphen(-).
  • To manually Hyphenate Text in a Selection Select the text that you want to hyphenate. Choose Tools – Language – Hyphenation.

For detailed help, read libreoffice hyphenation documentation

A hyphenated paragraph

Known Issues

Malayalam and several other languages does not use visible hypen(-) at the end of line when a word is broken. Currently there is no way to control this in libreoffice.

I had developed hyphenation patterns for 10 other Indian languages too. Yet to upload them to libreoffice repository. But they are readily available in Debian and Ubuntu. You can install them by choosing hyphen-* package.