How to improve using multiple languages at once in a text document

I feel like the problem that’s trying to be solved with like unicode and integrating different languages into a single document needs a little more exploration.

I don’t personally have the need for using multiple different scripts at the same time (like Ahmaric ብርሃን ይሁን ኣለ፤ ብ and English or something). But I have seen a lot of source code with comments in Chinese and the code itself in the Latin script, so it is done regularly.

Part of the problem I’d like to focus on here is that each language it seems needs a slightly different “font size” so to speak. That is if we have languages a, b, and c, then it might be that the characters have these widths at their ideally viewable resolutions/sizes:

  • a: 0.8-1.2 units per character
  • b: 0.5-1.5 units per character
  • c: 2.2 units per character

So imagine they have a proportional height requirement. This means some languages need a bigger line to be displayed correctly.

Then there is the issue that some languages read from left-to-right vs. right-to-left, or top-to-bottom or whatnot, though the main one is rtl vs. ltr. I don’t know any of these languages so I don’t know how it feels to context switch between two or more languages like these in a single line or paragraph.

But so there’s that, and the size differences, and the characters line up. It doesn’t look like every language lends itself well to monospacing, but even if it could you don’t want a lowercase Latin character to be the same size as a complex Chinese character, so it seems you really do need different spacing requirements at different levels.

Given that, and basically a trial-by-error demo that stackexchange is giving us with multi-cultural language use in Markdown, it seems the current solution is less than ideal. Only the Latin Script is optimized for all things (reading, viewing, pleasantness, etc.), and the other ones, well, you can read it if you try hard, put in some effort and deal with the ugliness around it.

So I’m wondering if you know of any solutions to this problem, of how to display multiple different languages in a single document. One thing I could imagine is requiring that you put each switch to a different language in a new line.

Hello I am some text and then I switch to परमेश्वर का आत्मा जल के ऊपर मण्डलाता switching back to English. 

But visually I’m sure this would mess with the overall look of the page and flow of stuff.

Another solution is to disallow mixing the scripts. But if you are a linguist and want to list multiple languages on a single page like this, you would be frowned upon or something, which doesn’t make sense.

So basically wondering what your thoughts are on how to improve the current situation.

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