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I've noticed that on Mac, in any of three Web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox), the sequence lam mim alef (لما) is sometimes displayed incorrectly. It should look like this:

lam mim alif

But instead it looks like this:

lam mim alif - display problem

(Ignore the black/white color flip -- I had to take screenshots in different contexts.)

Notice,

  • The mim is completely gone!

  • The lam has the "hat" on it that's normally associated with the initial form. This is expected, because it's in the initial position.

  • But it also has a tail sticking out to the right, which is not normal for an initial form.

By contrast, the following letter sequences seem to be displayed correctly:

lam mim, and mim alef

(lam+mim, and mim+alif).

And the "compulsory" ligature lam+alif is displayed correctly:

lam+alif

Where the sequence is displayed incorrectly:

  • In some web pages, such as this one (look for آلمان / Germany)
  • In the URL bar (and status bar) of Chrome, Safari, and Firefox (try this Forvo URL).

Where the sequence is displayed correctly:

  • On some web pages (e.g. Forvo or Google Translate)
  • In LibreOffice
  • On Windows (I tried the above "where it doesn't work correctly" places)

Since it works in some web pages and not others, and not in the URL bar, does that mean it's likely to be a font problem?

When I copy and paste the characters from a place where they display correctly to a place where they display incorrectly, they display incorrectly. I.e. they're the same characters, but the display is different depending on where they're shown. (And the reverse is also true.)

I happen to be using these letters in a Persian context, but they're Arabic letters and I believe the issues are the same.

I'm not an expert on either Arabic or Persian, so there could be something I'm missing... please let me know if I'm misunderstanding the issue. However I've searched the information I could find on Arabic and Persian ligatures, and there doesn't seem to be anything corresponding to this display form.

Also if anyone can suggest a better place to ask this question, I'd appreciate the tip.

  • If you are reporting that this is a bug you should send it to Apple: bugreport.apple.com – unknowndomain Aug 16 '18 at 17:09
  • Do have correct display in the apps Notes, Mail, TextEdit, Pages? – Tom Gewecke Aug 16 '18 at 17:54
  • @TomGewecke: I don't use those apps. I could test with them, but since you've discovered that it's actually a correct display form, I won't bother testing. – LarsH Aug 16 '18 at 18:51
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This is normal for some fonts, including Apple's default Geeza pro. In certain situations Lam plus meem becomes a ligature with the meem coming first and hard to recognize. See this.

  • Yes, it looks like Izumrud's answer there is the key: "In some scripts the laam-miim combination is written as this sort of ligature where the miim moves before the laam" (and changes shape). And as you say, this only happens in certain situations: laam+miim without the following alif didn't form this ligature. – LarsH Aug 16 '18 at 18:49
  • Turns out there is a unicode character for this presentation form, "U+FCCC: ARABIC LIGATURE LAM WITH MEEM INITIAL FORM" charbase.com/… The fact that there is a separate, different ISOLATED FORM explains why the same thing didn't happen without the following alif. Thank you, I couldn't find this without your help. – LarsH Aug 16 '18 at 19:03
  • Some further research seems to indicate there is virtually no explanation of this anywhere on the internet other than that particular link, which seems strange. FCCC should not normally ever actually occur in text, instead the font should make the shape automatically when it encounters lam + meem in the appropriate context. – Tom Gewecke Aug 16 '18 at 19:24
  • Yeah, it's surprising how hard it is to find info on Arabic ligatures (beyond لا) on the internet in English. And just to be clear, the U+FCCC character didn't occur in the text I was working with; that text has the characters ل followed by م. BTW unicode.org/charts/PDF/UFB50.pdf shows glyphs for this and many other presentation forms. In theory it could be used to look up similar cases. – LarsH Aug 16 '18 at 19:40
  • Another useful source: on graphemica.com you can search easily by terms, e.g. graphemica.com/search?q=arabic+ligature+lam+meem – LarsH Aug 16 '18 at 20:14

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