charsets and locales

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This probably isn't the right place to ask this. I say that only because I've gotten use to not getting a response to this question. Prove me wrong, pretty please.

I'm trying to get a big picture view of the following:

Given a unicode string with some characters in it, and the programmers desire to maybe do some font like things such as bolding and stuff, how does one determine what charset(s) are used to winnow the font selection down to the right fonts? Does fontconfig do this? Do Unix Locales define "preferred fonts"? Or is it a toolkit thing? If so, how do they do it? Is there a better place to ask this question?

I've gotten bits and pieces of the picture, but not enough to put it all together. No one can ever tell me, or point me to a document, this is how it works.

Travis Griggs
10 2 letter words: "If it is to be, it is up to me"

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