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Hi Jonathan:

Welcome to the multi-language war veterans club! Your purple heart is in the

There IS actually a logic as to how characters are laid out when typing
mixed L-T-R and R-T-L text in a line or sentence, but you need to understand
that most text rendering mechanisms continue to make some unwarranted
assumptions. First off, some punctuation in "foreign" (i.e. non-Latin)
scripts is taken from what used to be called the lower ASCII characters.
This makes some sense, as there is no point in duplicating identical
characters that are used for identical purposes. BUT: when the text
rendering engines encounter such characters while typing in another script,
they decide that the typist is back to using Latin script which, as you've
seen, can be disastrous.

With Hebrew Script (used in Hebrew, Yiddish and perhaps others I'm not aware
of), there is an additional problem:

Like most languages, Hebrew uses the same set of parentheses as English, and
treats "opening" and "closing" as meaning the curve is towards the innards
of the set. Since Hebrew is written from right-to-left, however, what is an
"opening" paren in Latin scripts is a "closing" paren in Hebrew and
vice-versa. This is the reason that the opening paren is above the 9 key for
both keyboard layouts, but they face the opposite direction (the "(" is
above the "9" key on English keyboards and above the "0" key on many Hebrew
keyboards) . Because of the flaw in the way rendering engines recognize
these characters (both of which are in the "Latin" set) as indicating a
return to English, you lose! Well, you get the idea.

Arabic - another RTL script used in far more languages than Hebrew - leaves
the "(" and ")" characters in the same positions they are on English

If you go to LibreOffice Bug #92655
( I attached a pdf
document there titled "General Discussion of Complex Text Attributes" which
you can download; this (and particularly page 14 &ff) describes some of the
details of the issue you're running into, and Hebrew is one of the specific
scripts used as an example.

Jonathon(toki)'s advice given above is spot on! If you understand what's
actually going on, and understand the characters to avoid having in certain
places and why (that's where I think my document may help you), you can
intermingle multiple directions within single lines successfully almost all
the time. Like him, I've done this for long enough to be able to get it
done, but I also have my own "tricks" to keep my head screwed on straight
when composing.

LibreOffice, which like most apps relies on an external rendering engine (I
believe it's HarfBuzz now, but am not certain) is affected by this rendering
assumption, as you have seen. You may also run into LibreOffice sometimes
substituting fonts unnecessarily when you switch, even if you have
specifically selected a font containg both scripts/languages you are using.
This results from some fonts not properly reporting which scripts and
languages they support. So the rendering engines dutifully find a substitute
font to use. It's messy. The other document attached to the same bug report
discusses many other side effects you'll need to become aware of.

You might also take a look at bug 32357 which deals with auto-completion
quirks when using multiple languages.

But it can be done: Best of Luck, and if you have other questions, or
discover new tricks, please post them.


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