Language and Linguistics, Literature and Law

Languages (plural) and Laws (plural)


Multilingual and translational activities: Languages and language learning, legal and literary matters (all senses), and comparative law.

Sphinx AGNSW

Legal Translating

Rainbow with a foot in both camps

Being an interpreter in court requires a depth of skill and mastery not much seen elsewhere.




Translating a court case and judgment, from one jurisdiction and system to another, requires an even greater mastery.

You can’t just go, “X is like Y” (even though it may be), because it is too misleading for those who have never been on or seen the other side.

The French for ‘London’ is Paris.

On the other hand, with willing listeners in the tour group, two systems, although different at street-level, will have similarities and equivalences at a more abstract, functional level: deciding a question of fact, for example, will be the task of the tribunal of fact (however constituted), and so a court-panel in France or Italy, made up of career judges and community citizens acting as a board, can be referred to as a ‘jury’ in that respect, even though how they are selected and how they enter and leave the courtroom and where they sit is different. (More like a grand jury than the petty jury of TV shows.)*


*TV is another influence on how people** perceive a court case  should be like.

**Including law students.

Woodblock emulation

Latex: Can do


The moral of the story, in the Tex/Latex/Xelatex world, is that it is solvable.

Given the traditional Chinese woodblock printing style, from top-down, right-to-left, the typesetting algorithm puzzle to solve is: given a string of characters, what is the formula for sequentially printing them Chinese-style into a w x h grid starting from the top left corner as column 1 row 1?

Answer: (w – c) * h + r

The symmetry group is almost quark-like if a third dimension were to be added.



Conjecture: Any (ordered) arrangement of locations, whether characters on a page, vertices in a crystal, or gluons in a glob, would have the same underlying mathematics.


The TBRL result, using the Chinese Wikipedia article on the star Achernar (水委一, shuǐ wěi yī) as an excerpt source (mid-March 2018 version; it has since been edited), is:


River End Prime is a …”

Obviously, the next step is that punctuation etc needs to be made auto-adjusting, but that is solvable too.

It’s all in the formula.







Mayan is doable in Latex

Typesetting Glyphs In Mayan

Mayan is doable, in Latex, using MayaPS.

Because Postscript is doing the glyph layout algorithm based on DVI output and bitmap fonts, the compilation sequence is multi-step:

  • latex filename (produces dvi file)
  • dvips filename (produces ps file)
  • pkfix filename.ps filenameo.ps (converts bitmap fonts)
  • ps2pdf filenameo (produces pdf file).




Example tex code:

\input mayaps
\input mpfmap
\input red89


\maya{213} + \maya{219} = \maya{213:219}

\maya{545} + \maya{546} = \maya{545:546}



\mayaRGB{0 0 0.8}c \mayaRGB{0.9 0.6 0}{orange}
\maya{451.452orange 026.(314/314)c (570/014‘r.267.024)c}

\maya{T520} \th \maya{T520} \maya{T520} \codex \maya{T520}

{ \ga \maya{T520} \maya{T520} } \maya{T520}
{ \codex \maya{T520} \maya{T520} } \maya{T520}
{ \th \maya{T520} \maya{T520} } \maya{T520}
 \par \noindent\mayaC{ % \mayaC = glyphs with captions
 451.452 026.314/(314) 111.274 047.276/010 913 810
 451.452 026.314/(314) 570/014.267.024 111.+176/111 913 810
 451.452 026.314/(314) 245.234 026.172/0 23 913 810}

\par xxx
\mayaGlyph{900r} \maya{072:107} versus \maya{072.107}


The writers of the package expect less than 100 users worldwide.

I’m perhaps more optimistic.


Using TeX for vertical typesetting

TeX is very good at horizontal typesetting, and can even do quite good vertical typesetting by the knack of using fonts with rotateable glyphs,  setting the page with its usual glue and stretchable spaces, then rotating the entire page 90 degrees.

Doing vertical typesetting by hand, so to speak, should also be possible.

Here follows an attempt:

Draw  a grid, then position the characters by trial-and-error adjustments:


with code like this:


\draw[step=\dunit, color=blue]{ (0,0) grid (8,12)};
\node at (8-0.40,12-0.40) {\huge\ver\char”5647};
\node at (8-0.40,11-0.20) {\huge\ver\char”5648};
\node at (8-0.40,10-0.05) {\color{red}\huge\ver\char”5F48};
\node at (8-0.40,9+0.15) {\huge\ver\char”5748};
\node at (8-0.40,8+0.35) {\huge\ver\char”5848};

When finished, draw the grid in white, say, to get:


It would be more convenient to have all the adjustments and positioning built-in, so to speak, and that can be done in the Tikz package by naming the text nodes methodically and then populating them (manually at first, later by a macro loop):


\node at (letters.center 14 12){\rotatebox[origin=c]{-90}{\huge\ver\char”300E}};
\node at (letters.center 14 11){\huge\ver 他};
\node at (letters.center 14 10){\huge\ver 们};
\node at (letters.center 14 9){\huge\ver 是};

but a square grid, rather than a rectangular one, is assumed:


If each square is defined as a set of four sub-quadratures, and inter-column spacing were a parameter relative to font size, with subsequent headings, margin notes, and so on, much could be done.

The quest continues.


Little Lorem

Random characters from a specific script

Place-filling text (lorem ipsum) to give an idea of what a page layout would look like has a long pedigree and TeX can do it well.

Sometimes an idea of what characters in a specific script would look like is also needed.


Here’s some TeX code for that (it started off as displaying random Chinese characters [by egreg on stackexchange in 2011], but has been expanded to handle any Unicode block as requested):

%Random text by script


%\errorcontextlines 10000 %for getting fuller error messages










%-------------------------- customised section:

% Yi block



% Linear A block



% Linear B syllabary block



% Linear B ideograms block



% Vai block



% Miscsellaneous symbols, emoticons, etc blocks



% Tangut Components block



% Tangut block



% Bamum block



% Anatolian hieroglyphs block



% Egyptian hieroglyphs block



% CJK part block



% Phaistos Disc block



%Cuneiform block







% url= https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/20409/how-to-create-a-table-of-random-characters-in-xetex

% question = How to create a table of random characters in XeTeX:

% "I want to create a table of 1000 characters picked randomly from the unicode block "unified CJK ideograms" (4E00-9FFF). Each cell should contain exactly one huge character, no character should appear twice."

% answer = answered Jun 10 '11 at 16:18 by egreg



\ifcsname CJK\the\cjkcharcnt\endcsname

\message{Recomputing (collision)}\let\next\cjkchar


\expandafter\let\csname CJK\the\cjkcharcnt\endcsname\empty

\ifshownumbers{\footnotesize(\number\cjkcharcnt) }\fi


\message{Recomputing (missing character)}\let\next\cjkchar






\newcommand{\row}{\hbox to\hsize{%









%scriptname, fontname, startcharactervalue, stopcharactervalue






This is a sample of #1 (in \hl{\texttt{#2}} font): \par

{\huge \ver \row\row\row}





%\shownumberstrue % uncomment to show (decimal) numbers

\dosample{Yi}{Noto Sans Yi}{\yistartc}{\yistopc}

\dosample{Linear A}{Aegean}{\linastartc}{\linastopc}


\dosample{Icons etc}{Code2003}{\iconstartc}{\iconstopc}

\dosample{Tangut Components}{Tangut Yinchuan}{\tangutcomstartc}{\tangutcomstopc}

\dosample{Tangut}{Tangut Yinchuan}{\tangutstartc}{\tangutstopc}

\dosample{Bamum}{Noto Sans Bamum}{\bamumstartc}{\bamumstopc}

\dosample{Anatolian hieroglyphs}{Anatolian}{\anatolianstartc}{\anatolianstopc}

\dosample{Egyptian hierglyphs}{Aegyptus}{\egyptianstartc}{\egyptianstopc}

\dosample{CJK ideographs}{SimSun}{\cjkstartc}{\cjkstopc}

\dosample{Linear B syllabary}{Aegean}{\linbsstartc}{\linbsstopc}

\dosample{Linear B ideograms}{Aegean}{\linbistartc}{\linbistopc}

\dosample{Phaistos Disc}{Aegean}{\phaistosstartc}{\phaistosstopc}








% \row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row

% \row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row

% \row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row

% \row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row

% \row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row\row