re: Greek characters in IPA usage

From: verdy_p (
Date: Wed Aug 12 2009 - 10:49:23 CDT

  • Next message: verdy_p: "re: Greek characters in IPA usage"

    I see a major difference here with the Latin Alpha: the main reason why it should be encoded as a Latin letter is
    that it is effectively used to write actual words in true humane languages, instead of just series of symbols for
    denoting an IPA notation convention. For this usage, there must be a clear distinction between the Latin alpha leter
    and the Latin a, when it occurs in actual texts, and this distinction benefits to IPA which best chooses this letter
    rather than depending on non-guaranteed distnictions between Greek alpha and Latni alpha.
    But I've not seen any Latin-written language that needs a distinction between b and beta. Instead the Latin script
    already has very similar-looking characters notably the lowercase sharp s, which in many Latin fonts, already
    ressembles much to some beta.

    But anyway, IPA does not need distinctions between beta and sharp s, but lives in in its own subset of symbols,
    where characters borrowed from any block can fit, provided that they warranty a good distinction.
    The main question is not with IPA, but with the need for theta and beta letters in Latin orthographies of actual
    languages: if such need exists, yes these letters should be encoded as Latin (to avoid mixed scripts in those
    languages), and can still benefit from warranteed separation between fonts built for Latin typographies and Greek

    I currently see absolutely no problem if some IPA symbols like these two get typesetted using a traditional Greek
    typography, when the Latin letters get typesetted using traditional Latin typographies, as it does not create
    demionstrated ambiguities. The only problem would be to make sure that fonts that embed noth the Latin adn Greek
    letters can be used for typesetting the IPA symbols, using compatible font metrics (notably the same baseline, the
    same M-height and the same x-height): this is effectively a problem for the alpha letter because the various x-
    height do not match easily at the same font size, when at the same time it is easy to make a font that will use the
    same M-height and baseline for Greek and Latin letters. But it is not really a problem for beta and theta that use
    only the baseline and M-height alignment.

    If you also consider the fine typographic features of the beta and theta glyphs, you'll realize immediately that
    none of them use any serif, even within a serif font (so when Greek is typesetted in styles where the serifs of
    small letters are preferably rounded like water drops, with letters possibly slightly italicized to the right, and
    Latin is typesetted in styles where the all serifs are preferably thin sharp wedges, there is no real problem of
    compatibility between these two styles, and letters from the two sets can easily coexists, especially when
    typesettings symbolic notations like IPA and not text).

    The final problem could come when IPA symbols are augmented with diacritics (IPA can add a lot of diacritics, with
    some of them specific to this notation). Yes there are different rules for typesetting diacritics in Greek, but the
    most important differences occur with their placement relative to capital letters, on the side of them rather than
    on top of them. But IPA does not use capital letters for its notational symbols, so this is not a real problem.

    > Message du 11/08/09 23:03
    > De : "Andreas Stötzner"
    > A :
    > Copie à : "UTC" , "MUFI-fonts"
    > Objet : Greek characters in IPA usage
    > There seems to be repeated confusion about Greek minuscules beta and
    > theta when it comes to their usage in phonetic context (IPA). Whereas a
    > “Latin alpha” has been granted its separat codepoint at 0251 the β and
    > θ have to be represented based on the common Greek codepoints 03B2 and
    > 03B8 even in IPA environments. For those two characters (as for the
    > ‘alpha’ 0251) a proprietary ‘latinised’ glyph tradition exists in
    > phonetics, requiring a distinct Latin-style glyph moulding opposite to
    > the more traditional Greek-style moulding. Being merely a matter of
    > style at the first glance this becomes a troublesome issue for font
    > developers who are confronted with a demand to provide IPA-styled beta
    > and theta and yet want to maintain the typographic integrity of the
    > Greek range in their font(s).
    > This is what has been considered so far to solve the problem:
    > – using glyph variants and features (applies to Opentype format only,
    > interoperability unsafe);
    > – using PUA codepoints (bad practice, interoperability restricted and
    > questionable);
    > – urging phonetists to accept the Greek glyphs as they are (does not
    > work with every typeface);
    > – leave the phonies in their typographic ghetto and thus keeping IPA
    > text matters incompatible to the rest of the world (which seems absurd
    > to me);
    > – to seperately encode LATIN SMALL LETTER BETA and LATIN LETTER SMALL
    > THETA which would font producers allow to get rid of the trouble and
    > IPAists to have their will …
    > – What are you suggesting?
    > A. St.
    > _________________________________________________________
    > Andreas Stötzner Signographie
    > Signographisches Institut Andreas Stötzner i.A. (Pegau/Sa.)
    > Tel. +49-34296-74849 Fax +49-34296-74815
    > Willkommen auf
    > [ (pas de nom de fichier) (2.3 Ko) ]

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