I've used pdfLaTeX for one year but I've got a specific issue and I'm considering switching to XeTeX or LuaTeX. I've seen several questions about pros and cons of each option but they don't really help me choose since they show cases where several texts, each in a different script, must be used:

I must type a document involving several languages and several scripts alternatively, meaning the script changes several times in the same sentence/paragraph, as in a multilingual dictionary (one word in English, then one word in Chinese, then one word in English again, then one word in Persian). The scripts involved are: latin, arabic, polytonic greek, cyrillic, chinese, japanese, devanagari and some others like ge'ez, korean, georgian, thai...

Using a WYSIWYG method I'd have been able to copy/paste many Unicode characters, but what would be the best TeX option, considering the effort involved:

  1. to learn how to deal with a new system (XeTeX or LuaTeX),

  2. to type my inputs (it is far easier to enter a transliteration to be displayed as another script in the pdf, than to copy/paste many Unicode characters),

  3. to switch languages/scripts fast, easily and (very very) often, which is the major criterion?

Stay with pdfLaTeX-babel-arabtex-etc. (would the utf-8 encoding I use support that?), switch to XeTeX-polyglossia-arabxetex-etc., or switch to LuaTeX-I don't know what yet-etc.?

closed as too broad by Andrew Swann, TeXnician, Phelype Oleinik, dexteritas, Stefan Pinnow Jun 15 '18 at 16:55

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    Welcome! XeLaTeX. Polyglossia. Unicode. If you want to enter transliterated source, configure your editor or write a script to substitute the unicode. Or presumably you can set up XeLaTeX to use the transliterated forms as input - it just typically makes the source harder to read. – cfr Jul 19 '16 at 2:16
  • 1
    i've never had to work in more then two scripts at once, so i won't presume to suggest which engine to use. however, if you're changing language/script at almost every word, i'd suggest you think about avoiding hyphenation. that might allow you, if you are able to enter the scripts directly with unicode, to avoid having to change the language specification, and only bother with additional commands when the direction of the script changes (l-to-r vs. r-to-l); i don't know any way to avoid marking that explicitly (although i'm willing to learn otherwise). also consider ragged setting. – barbara beeton Jul 19 '16 at 4:08

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