Wednesday, February 6, 2008

If Your Chinese Characters Don't Look Quite Right....

A poster in the Apple Forums recently asked why certain Simplified Chinese characters did not look exactly the way he expected them to, giving as examples bao1 (U+5305) and fang2 (U+623F). Looking these up in the Character Palette, I discovered that they are characters where the Chinese and Japanese versions are visibly different. You can compare them here. The first column is Japanese, while the second two columns are Chinese.

So it appears that the poster's apps were using OS X's Japanese fonts instead of the Chinese ones that he wanted. Aside from switching to the correct font, one possible solution for this is to go to System Preferences/International/Languages and make sure that Simplified Chinese (简体中文) is higher on the list than Japanese (日本語).

This issue arises as a result of the unification of the Han Script in Unicode, under which slightly different versions of characters were given the same code point. Fonts produced for specific languages will nonetheless retain the different versions. For more info you can check here.


Aikinai said...

Hi, this isn't directly related to this post, but I couldn't find anywhere to ask questions. I've been trying to figure this out for awhile, but can't find it anywhere and thought you might know. How does OS X decide what asian font to use as a backup when the main font being used is western?

For example, the operating system overall (Finder and such) will switch to Osaka instead of Helvetica when you type in Japanese. However, Notes (in Mail 3.0) switches from Marker Felt to a mincho font.

I don't think there's any way to do this, but I just wanted to check to see if you knew of a way to control the backup asian fonts in OS X.

Thanks a lot.

Tom Gewecke said...

Sorry, I don't know. The best place to ask would be the Chinese Mac group: