Vamping on IPA (was: Re: Hooks and Curls and Bars, oh my (was: New contribution))

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 15:06:46 CDT

Ernest said:

> I never said IPA wasn't useful, I just think it would have been better if
> it had
> been defined as separate script

This was argued ab extenso in 1989/1990, and the committee came down on the
side you now represented in the standard. Rehashing this 15 years later
isn't going to change anything.

> and when an IPA symbol turned into a
> cased Latin letter pair, to have added two letters instead of one.

This would break all kinds of things, and would be worse than the
potential problem it is trying to avert.

> IPA has
> both a lack of case, and a stricter definition of glyph shape than Latin
> does
> which to my mind provide a difference between IPA and Latin.

No, as Michael Everson indicated, IPA is a defined *usage* of the
Latin script. It is a *functionally* different usage than most Latin
orthographies, and has stricter requirements for presentation of
glyphs, and includes diacritic usage which is not used outside
the context of phonetic transcription (and occasional phonemic
adaptations), but it is *Latin* script nonetheless.

> However,
> I don't think that disunification there is going to happen in general,

You are correct about that.

> altho
> I do think that a and g need to be disunified from the IPA symbols since
> IPA assumes that they have forms which they don't have in all fonts.

The International Phonetic Association already maps the open front unrounded
vowel to U+0061 and the open back unrounded vowel to U+0251. How would
addition of *another* character assist anyone here?

> and

Same issue. And in *this* case, the International Phonetic Association
now recognizes both glyphic forms (seen in U+0067 and U+0261, the latter
of which was explicitly added for IPA) as mere equivalents, rather than
as having any phonetic distinction. How would adding a *third*
character into this stew assist anything?

> What do you think? Would it be worth coming up with a formal proposal
> for these two to disunify the IPA symbols from LATIN SMALL LETTER A


Ernest continued...

> I would like to see where IPA makes
> a distinction between two glyph variants of the same Latin Letter that
> both glyph variants and not just one variant was encoded. As it
> stands now, it means that any font that incorporates IPA has to use
> specific glyph variants of a and g as a and g because of the
> disunification that IPA makes between those variants and the current
> unification of one of those variants that IPA uses with the Latin small a
> and small g. Given that some fonts historically prefer the glyph variant
> that is a different character for IPA, I don't consider that acceptable.

g's are not at issue. The a's work just fine for most fonts, unless
you are typesetting your IPA in italic, which would be inappropriate,
anyway. And the need for a specialized font for IPA is also nothing
new, in any case. Many off-the-shelf fonts will not have support for
the full apparatus of IPA.

I think we are fine as things stand, and don't see any reason why this
*particular* issue needs further debate.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri May 07 2004 - 18:45:26 CDT