Ruby character

Ruby (Japaneseルビrubi ) refers to a comment system in which the text appears in a line along with his notes. This is mainly used in Japanese and Chinese texts to indicate the pronunciation as the Chinese characters used there give in many cases no information about the actual pronunciation. In Japanese this is called also use furigana. An example:

Here, a phonetic script is generally in addition to the actual text that is written in Chinese characters used. In Japanese, these are the Kana, in Chinese, Pinyin or Zhuyin mainly.

Applications of Ruby

Ruby can be used for various reasons:

  • Because the character is rare and pronunciation most people is not known (eg characters for personal names );
  • Because the character has more than one pronunciation, and the context is not sufficient to determine what is to be used;
  • Because the target audience of the text in the language but learn from it and can not be expected to always know the pronunciation and / or meaning of the term,
  • Because the author is a non-standard pronunciation of the characters used for example, to pun - puns ( dajare ) emphasize or clarify that they are speaking in another language.

In addition, Ruby can be used to specify the meaning of a possibly uncustomary (usually foreign ) slang expression rather than the pronunciation. This is generally used in spoken dialogue and is exclusively for Japanese publications. The most common form of Ruby is called furigana or yomigana and can be found in Japanese textbooks, newspapers, comics and children's books.

In Japanese, some characters (eg the Sokuon tsuっindicating a pause before the consonant, before which it stands ) is usually written with half the size of a normal character. With Ruby written but all the characters were the same size. Only technological advances now allow certain characters to be rendered accurately.

In Chinese, the practice of giving phonetic notes by Ruby, is rare, but systematically used in primary school textbooks or dictionaries,. The Chinese have no special name for it, because it is not as widespread as in Japan. In Taiwan, it is known under the name zhuyin, the name of the phonetic system, which is used for this purpose. It is in a sense always used vertically as publications normally appear in vertical format and Zhuyin is not written horizontally easy to read. Where zhuyin is not used, other Chinese phonetic systems are used (for example, Hanyu Pinyin).

Ruby characters are not normally used in word - for-word translations between languages ​​, not even for identical classical Chinese characters, as all natural languages ​​idioms include ( in which word combinations other meanings than the individual words), the relationship is not - adjacent words is often difficult to detect and usually there is no precise and unambiguous translation for a given word. There are also difficulties when the source and target language different writing directions have (for example, German is written from left to right, Hebrew from right to left). A well-known example of this is the Christian Bible, which was originally written in Koine, Hebrew and Aramaic something. Only a very few can read fluently these original languages ​​. Therefore, many publications of the Christian Bible contained in their original languages ​​Ruby texts with word - for-word translations into other languages ​​, eg German to help. Such documents are often referred to as documents with interlinear version (where the emphasis is on translated texts to give " between the lines" ) and they often also contained a separate full translation of the text, rather than only using Ruby scripts, but is also here there are exceptions.

The Ruby annotation is also used in manuscripts.


In the British typography Ruby was originally the font size with a height of 5.5 points, which was used for interlinear versions in printed documents. In Japanese, the word was used for typesetting furigana instead to refer to the font size. In the transliteration back into English the word in some texts as " rubi " played (the typical romanization of the Japanese wordルビ) was. The spelling of "Ruby" has become customary, however, since a W3C Recommendation was published for Ruby markup.

In the United States it was called " Agate " at least before the 1950s:

"Agate: An old name for a type size slightly smaller than 5.5 points .... In England called Ruby. "

Technical Problems

The representation of parallel text in a row represents a typographic problem that is usually not adequately controlled by computers. Only in word processing programs that specifically support Japanese, such as Microsoft Word or, a support exists. However, this is not on the typographical level of normal Japanese books. For an extension to HTML in CSS standard is available, which is only supported by a few browsers. Therefore, it is usually dispensed websites on the specification of the debate, or only appears in parentheses after the word.

The representation of the Chinese Zhuyin of the symbol is on the computer as well as not easily possible. Therefore, use is made in this case, special font, which have already integrated the Zhuyin characters.

Ruby in XHTML 1.1

In 2001, the W3C published the specifications for the Ruby Annotation to complement XHTML with ruby markup. Ruby markup is not a standard part of HTML 4.01 or any of the XHTML 1.0 specification ( XHTML 1.0 Strict, XHTML 1.0 Transitional and XHTML - 1.0 Frameset ), but was included in the XHTML 1.1 specification.

The ruby markup consists of the elements ruby, rbc, rtc, rb, rt and rp. It is the only extension over HTML 4.0.

As a simple example, waiving of Far Eastern characters, a markup used, which is a base and a row of ruby text:

     WWW World Wide Web    < / ruby ​​> Edition: WWWWorld Wide Web

According to the recommendations of the W3C, this markup should be rendered as follows:

The support of the markup language 1.1 is not yet mature because of slow implementation of XHTML. While the Internet Explorer Version 5.0 is already partially supported for Windows and Macintosh ruby markup, competing products such as Mozilla Firefox, Konqueror or Opera have not been implemented. These Ruby contents are output without distinction, which can lead to understanding errors, but at least looks ugly. So the above example would be output as " WWWWorld Wide Web ". To resolve this problem partially exists rp tag whose content is not output from Ruby implementations. By following the presentation markup on browsers with Ruby support remains unchanged browser without giving but from " WWW ( World Wide Web) ," which eliminates possible errors of comprehension:

     WWW (< / rp > World Wide Web )    < / ruby ​​> Format: WWW ( World Wide Web)

The W3C is also working on a specific Ruby module for the upcoming CSS level 3


Below are some examples of ruby markup are listed. The markup will be shown first, and the rendered markup is then shown. Web browsers render either in the correct size and position it as shown in the table-based examples above or use the fallback rendering with the ruby ​​characters in brackets:

(< / rp > とう ) < / ruby ​​> (< / rp > きょう ) < / ruby ​​> 东(とう)京(きょう) see also

  • Harakat - diacritics to the vocalization of the Arabic script, the phonetic help make the reading of texts in Arabic.
  • Nikud - Vocal puncture of the Hebrew Scriptures, the phonetic help in reading the Hebrew language provides. ( The Hebrew abjad represents only consonants dar. )