RE: 'lower case a' and 'script a' in unicode

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu Mar 24 2005 - 09:06:10 CST

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    From: [] On Behalf Of Alec Coupe

    > I should have been more precise in the original posting and asked why all
    > designers of unicode-complaint IPA fonts, whose principal application is
    > allegedly phonetics, follow the tradition of allowing LATIN SMALL LETTER
    > A (U+0061) to change to LATIN SMALL LETTER ALPHA  (U+0251) when it's
    > italicized.

    Well, just how many Unicode-encoded IPA fonts do you know of?

    I think you'll find that, when SIL gets around to producing a Unicode version of Doulos Italic, they will give some consideration to this. There is a general problem, though: fonts often get used for multiple purposes by different users, so you may find that some fonts will support a one-story italic a by default and a two-story alternate for phonetic use using a font feature.

    > This means that not all fonts can be used for phonetics, and (if you're
    > putting text on a website, say) you can have no guarantee that it will be
    > displayed correctly on the viewer's end...

    This is, indeed an issue. What you can do is specify preferred fonts in a stylesheet if there are fonts you think are likely to be on the reader's system, or you can use font embedding technology, such as WEFT.

    > I hope this can also be appreciated by designers of unicode-compliant
    > fonts with all the IPA extensions.

    This is not something that a font vendor can solve since the font vendor doesn't control what fonts will be used to display the text on the system of the person reading the page. The only ones with any control over that are the owner of that system, or the Web site developer.

    Of course, if you're preparing an article for submission to a hard-copy publication such as _Language_ or _IJAL_, then those issues don't arise.

    Peter Constable

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