TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm trying to implement in XeLaTeX the Syriac Abbreviation Mark (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriac_Abbreviation_Mark).

The code I came up with is the following:

\def^^^^070f#1 {\zwj\aemph{#1}\ }

Now I can use the control character in the text (assuming I have a Syriac font):




\setmainfont{Estrangelo Edessa}

\def^^^^070f#1 {\zwj\aemph{#1}\ }


ܫܠ܏ܡܳܐ ܫܠܡܐ.


Here is the result:

Example of Syriac Abbreviation Mark

This is not perfect for two reasons. First, it requires a space to end the control sequence (in fact, it should be ended by any non-Syriac character). Second, ideally the result should be an overline with 3 dots in it (beginning, end and middle - see above Wikipedia article for example).

Could anyone help me out with this?

share|improve this question
Welcome to TeX.sx! As it stands the code is completely wrong and it's difficult to understand what it should do. – egreg Apr 23 '13 at 9:01
I realized now that I could simplify the code using the \aemph command defined in Polyglossia. This would yield the following code: \catcode`܏=13 \newcommand{\zwj}{‍} \def܏#1 {\zwj\aemph{#1}\ } – Ariel Apr 23 '13 at 9:18
\catcode`13= is meaningless. Or, better, it has a meaning that's surely not what you want. Also \def1# { is illegal. It seems that you're mixing left-to-right with right-to-left. – egreg Apr 23 '13 at 9:20
There is a problem here with the rendering of this Unicode character (which is Right-To-Left and thus messes up the order). It just makes the SAM character (U+070F) an active character. The second command defines \zwj as a substitute for the ZWJ character (U+200D). The last command defines the the SAM character followed by an argument and then a space as {\zwj\aemph{#1}\ }. – Ariel Apr 23 '13 at 9:25
You can use the ^ convention: \catcode`^^^^070f=13 and then \def^^^^070f#1{...}; you can also say \chardef\zwj="200D which is easier. May you try it and expand to a complete example? – egreg Apr 23 '13 at 9:31

Here is a tikz method:

\tikzstyle{zwj}=[inner sep=0pt,outer sep=0pt,anchor=base]
\tikzstyle{zwjdot}=[circle,draw,fill,inner sep=0pt,outer sep=0pt,minimum width=1pt]
      \node[zwj] (text) {#1};
      \useasboundingbox (text.base west) rectangle (text.north east);
      \draw ([yshift=2ex]text.base west) -- ([yshift=2ex]text.base east)
         node[pos=0,zwjdot] {}
         node[pos=1,zwjdot] {}
         node[pos=0.5,zwjdot] {};

foobar         & puckluck \\
\zwj{foo}bar   & \zwj{puck}luck

At this point the descenders are changing the vertical alignment. I'll try more later.

sample code output

share|improve this answer
The line looks beautiful, but this has the unfortunate side effect of not respecting the text order (which is Right-to-Left in Syriac). By the way, one should probably call your macro \sam as it stands for Syriac Abbreviation Mark (ZWJ = Zero-Width-Joiner, which is responsible for the contextual shaping of the letters). – Ariel Apr 23 '13 at 9:38
@Ariel: Hm.. I'll have to think more about RTL. But I did fix the baseline problem. – Matthew Leingang Apr 23 '13 at 10:00

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.