Re: IPA a vowels

From: John Hudson (
Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 16:04:34 EDT

Marco Cimarosti wrote:

>I think I have spotted a possible problem with the Unicode encoding of the
>International Phonetic Alphabet.


>In IPA it is normative that <front, open, not rounded> has a "nose" and that
><back, open, not rounded> has no "nose", while in the ordinary Latin
>alphabet, having a "nose" or not is only a matter of taste. There are many
>fonts that have a "noseless a" (e.g. Futura, Modern, most script-like fonts,
>most italic fonts).

>Even if the designers of a "noseless a" font povide a special "nose a"
>glyph, they would have no Unicode codepoint to which they can attach it:
>they cannot use U+0061 because that would mean giving up their "noseless a"
>decision (that is probably much more important to font vendors than
>supporting IPA altogether).

I would hope that when my fellow type designers are called upon to design
fonts for IPA, they will understand enough about that notation system not
to provide a single storey lowercase a glyph for U+0061. In other words,
this is pretty much a non-issue, because competent type designers works
with the requirements of a writing system as their brief. IPA is a
specialised writing system, and I don't think anyone expects it to be
possible or even desirable to produce, for example, an IPA font in the
style of 18th Century roundhand script.

John Hudson, Type Director

Tiro Typeworks
Vancouver, BC

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