Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the world's language groups, part of Multilingual Publishing Strategies with InDesign.
It's estimated there are over 6,000 languages in the world, and about 4,000 of them have a writing system associated with them. As technology flattens our world and the world grows smaller, the need to communicate in multiple languages is on the rise. Chances are, sooner or later, you are going to need to work on a document that contains languages other than American English. We are going to focus on four issues that come into play when producing multilingual documents and see how they relate to features in InDesign. These are all important issues that you should be aware of and keep in mind as you set out to produce multilingual documents.
The key issues you need to keep in mind when working with multilingual languages in InDesign are fonts and the character sets they contain. Does the font you're using have the characters to typeset the language you are working on? Next, you need to be aware of language dictionaries and simply be sure that you set the right dictionary for the language that you are working in. The third thing that you need to become aware of are composition and different Adobe composers that are available. Not all languages use the same composer as American English.
And finally, you need to be aware of language direction. Most languages you work in will run left or right like English, but not every language does; some run from right to left and that has a host of implications, all which we will be discussing later in this course. With these features in mind, we are going to categorize the world languages into six categories. These are not linguistic divisions, but really a way of thinking about different language groups and which features you really need to pay attention to when you're working in these languages.
The first language group is the Western European language group. These are the languages that are most like English, and they include Spanish, German, French, and Italian. Most of the fonts you'll work with have all the character sets that you'll need to typeset these languages. These the same composer as English, and they run left to right. The only thing that you'll need to do is set the correct language dictionary for this language group. The second language group we are going to discuss are the Central European languages. These include languages like Polish, Czech, and even Turkish.
Like the Western European languages, these languages use the same composer as English. They run left to right, but not as many fonts will have all of the character sets that you need. These languages do use the roman alphabet, but they add special accent markers that the Western European languages don't have. The third language group we are going to take a look at is that of Greek/Cyrillic. Now these languages use the same composer as English. They run left to right, but they don't use the roman alphabet.
The Greek language uses the Greek alphabet, and Cyrillic is actually not a language. It's a writing system that's used for languages like Russian, Belarusian, and sometimes Serbian. You'll find that many of the fonts you use every day do not contain the character sets necessary for these languages, so that's something you have to keep in mind as you are working with them. The fourth language group we are going to take a look at are the Indic languages and some of the Southeast Asian languages. These languages use a completely different writing system, and they include languages like Hindi or Nepalese or Thai in Southeast Asia.
For the Indic languages, the most common writing system is Devanagari, and it's a script language that doesn't look anything at all like English. While these languages run left to right, they do require that we use a different composer than we use for English and the other languages that we've looked at so far. They require the Adobe World-Ready Composer in order to form correctly. The fifth category of languages we'll look at are the Middle Eastern languages. These languages are quite different from English. They use a different alphabet.
They required a different composer, the World-Ready Composer, the same as we use for Indic languages. But the big difference is that they run the opposite direction from English. They run right to left instead of left to right, and this has a lot of implications that we'll look in more detail later in the course. The last language category is that for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean text, sometimes called the CJK languages. These languages are very different from English; they don't even use an alphabet, so the characters are quite different.
They require a completely a different composer called the Adobe Japanese Composer, which is built into InDesign, but which isn't readily available in the interface, and we are going to talk about how to make that available when you're working with these languages. And finally, these languages do run left to right in most cases, and it's only when they're typeset vertically, which is used for more formal layouts, that they run right to left. So, these languages are very different from English, and there are all sorts of things we need to keep in mind when working with them.
Now let's take a look at how these language groups relate back to the various features of InDesign. When it comes to typesetting Western European languages, it's pretty easy. We probably have the character sets in our font. We just need to set the appropriate language dictionary, and we don't need to think about the composer or the language direction. When it comes to CE, or Central European, languages we can be less sure that we have the character sets in the fonts, but many fonts do contain these characters. We need to check the dictionary and set the appropriate language dictionary, but we don't need to think about the composer or the language direction. Same for Greek and Cyrillic.
As long as we're sure that we have the right character set in our font and we apply the appropriate language dictionary, we don't need to think about the composer or the language direction. When it comes to Indic and Southeast Asian languages, we have a few less choices when it comes to fonts. There really aren't that many Indic language fonts installed by your operating system or the Creative Suite, and it's not at all uncommon to have to acquire third-party fonts. That's why we have put the symbol here that you see that you may have to get these fonts from a third party.
You do need to set the correct language dictionary, and you need to set the composer to the World-Ready Composer for these languages. Fortunately, the language direction is the same as English. For ME languages, the character sets are completely different, and we usually need fonts dedicated to the ME languages. We also had to set the language dictionary and we have to change the composer to the World-Ready Composer. In all cases, we have to deal with language-direction issues. If we just need to typeset a single word, it's pretty simple, but if we have to typeset any more than that, it gets a little bit more involved, and we are going to talk about that later in this course.
Finally, for CJK languages you do have a lot of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fonts installed in your system and by the Creative Suite, so that's covered. But you do not have the language dictionaries, nor must the composer to typeset these languages properly. This must be acquired from outside InDesign. It's not that hard and it doesn't necessarily cost anything, and we'll take a look at that in depth later in the course. Finally, for language direction with CJK, when the type is set vertically, you do have to deal with right-to-left issues.
But fortunately, as I mentioned, most of the time these languages are typeset horizontally, just like English. So, now we have a quick overview of all the languages in the world, and how they relate InDesign features. Let's get started with looking at them in more detail.
- Topics include:
- Exploring fonts and character sets
- Working with language dictionaries
- Changing language direction
- Typesetting different languages
- Installing scripts and templates for Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Japanese languages
- Understanding the importance of translation
- Choosing the right workflow
- Working with one or more languages in a single file
- Using an XML workflow
- Creating PDFs
- Setting up a Digital Publishing Suite tablet app
- Publishing to EPUB