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I am using pdftex (MiKTeX) to typeset snippets of old texts. I am stuck on how to get the ligature that looks like qz in old latin (1526) (but could be some form of que). For example the third word below (and twice more on the last line)

old latin text from 1526

I am using \fontfamily{jkpvos} from kpfonts to get the long s and st ligatures, but have no clue about the other. (The text is from Cursus quatuor mathematicarum artium liberalium by Pedro Ciruelo, 1526.)

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It is an abbreviation for “-que”. And early prints of Latin (and other) texts used a lot more of such shorthand forms. –  Speravir Aug 21 '12 at 2:22
1  
This is U+E8BF. If you expect to work with texts of this sort often, keep an eye on the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative (gandalf.aksis.uib.no/mufi), which often announces useful fonts. –  Thérèse Aug 21 '12 at 3:51
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If luatex or xetex are options for you, Andron Scriptor Web has this character; you can download the font at mufi.info/fonts free of charge. –  Thérèse Aug 21 '12 at 4:04
    
While the 'q3' is clearly '-que' in all the shown cases above, it might be worth noting that this is not invariably the case (especially in earlier books and manuscripts). The '3' might be a an 'm' (e.g., aia3 = animam [with a macron over the 'i']), or perhaps a 'us' (e.g., oib3 = omnibus [with same macron]), or an 'ed/et' (e.g., l3/s3 = licet/sed [or set]). Be careful when transcribing. –  jon Aug 21 '12 at 18:20
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The Junicode medieval font has this character mapped as E8BF. It seems to have an automatic ligature that provides it, but it doesn't really work that I could tell.

\documentclass[10pt]{article}

\usepackage{fontspec}
\usepackage{xunicode}
\defaultfontfeatures{Ligatures=TeX}
\setmainfont[Numbers=OldStyle]{Junicode}
\usepackage{xspace}

\newcommand\qz{\char"E8BF\xspace}

\begin{document}
\noindent veritas \& ratio vtriſ\qz. Numeri imparis tres ſunt ſpecies immediate quæ sunt, primus,
ſecundus,\& ad alterum primus. Numerus impar primus eſt qui ſola vnitate parte
aliquota metiri poteſt, vt.3.5.7. idem\qz incompoſitus nominatur,\& ratio vtriuſ\qz de\char"2E17 
\end{document}

which produces:

qz with junicode

Note: As Thérèse said, using OTF fonts requires fontspec, hence using XeTeX or LuaTeX (in my case, I built this example with lualatex). That said, for medieval needs, you'll find more resources with OTF fonts.

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You're right, the ligature in question is short for "que" ("and"). I don't think there's a ready-made ligature in the kpfonts package (with the veryoldstyle option set) for this ligature, but one can get reasonably good first approximation via q\kern-1.8pt{\footnotesize 3}:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[veryoldstyle]{kpfonts}
\newcommand\que{q\kern-1.8pt{\footnotesize 3}}
\begin{document}
ratio vtrius\que. Numeri imparis=
\end{document}

enter image description here

Addendum: Thanks to @Raphink's answer and the other comments, I think I now understand the characteristics of the -que ligature a bit better. If time and resources allow, it's naturally best if you can use a font (such as Junicode) that provides all required ligatures "out of the box." However, if you want to stick with the kpfonts package, you may want to use the modified definition of the -que ligature

\newcommand\que{q\kern-2pt\raise 1.2pt\hbox{{\scriptsize 3}}}

to get this output:

enter image description here

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Thank you for this quick work around. Raphink's code compiled just fine for me in LauTeX, and I'll probably switch to it soon, but for now I am using a modified form of your answer to address the immediate problem. –  Chris K. Caldwell Aug 21 '12 at 18:58
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