28 December 2011

Word Spacing

There's a curious phenomenon in the local Malay language newspaper of sometimes allowing words to be printed with almost no space between them. For example, this is from page 4 of Media Permata of 29 December 2011:I find this very difficult to parse, because of the lack of spacing between the words. If we break it up, it is:
membawa pembangunan pesat sosioekonomi
('bring fast socio-economic development')
And here is another example from the same page:which is actually:
Ekspo itu juga mengadakan pertandingan
('The expo also has a competition')
I am not sure if this lack of spacing between words only occurs with Malay, or if it also occurs in English language newspapers but I don't notice it because I find it easier to parse English. My guess is that it is more common with Malay.

The issue clearly arises because of the long word at the end a line. However, elsewhere in the newspaper, there is plenty of hyphenation to split up long words and maintain normal spacing. So it is not clear why hyphenation is not used in these two examples.

My guess is that the software has difficulty doing it automatically for Malay, so it has to be done manually; and the typesetters don't have time to get it completely right for every single article every day. In contrast, automatic hyphenation is easily implemented for English, so it is not a problem in English newspapers.