Re: Greek characters in IPA usage

From: Andreas Stötzner (
Date: Thu Aug 13 2009 - 07:31:21 CDT

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    Am 13.08.2009 um 12:16 schrieb Asmus Freytag:

    > …

    >> Yes, but Greek and IPA-Phonetic may well happen to appear
    >> side-by-side in one text in which case a demand of rendering the
    >> difference of Greek and Latin beta would surely have some merits.
    >> What would you do then?
    > It's not a question of whether there's merit in being able to display
    > the beta using different glyphs for IPA and regular text. Let's all
    > agree that this is useful. What I meant to point out (and others have
    > confirmed) is that IPA users would view a display using the other
    > shape as

    > a glyph issue, not a character issue.

    In practice and business it doesn’t matter what you call it. The
    current situation blocks fontists and scholars to get on with each
    other. Nobody cares wether this is a glyph or a char. issue. It IS an
    issue which should get solved anyway.

    >> There *are two beta glyphs* already in the standard (03B2, 03D0). And
    >> the latter has been included although it’s exactly the same
    >> borderline case.
    > Not really. I know that for the theta, where there are two glyphs,
    > those two shapes mean something different in physics. Substituting one
    > for the other in a physics paper or text book is not merely a glyph
    > issue, but has become a character distinction (even though it's not a
    > character distinction for ordinary Greek text). I believe the case for
    > the beta is equivalent, so there are contexts where the two shapes
    > really mean something different and thus it's a character issue.
    >> In other words, if an unsuitable font is used,
    >> The font must not be blamed for what is going wrong between
    >> standardisation and user requirements.
    >> the IPA will look odd, but still be readable.
    > It's not been a design point for the standard to support "single font"
    > display of IPA intermixed with regular text. The idea was that the IPA
    > would use a font suitable for IPA (i.e. using all the shapes as best
    > for IPA) while all the text portions would use a font that had the
    > other shapes (and therefore is unsuitable for IPA).

    I don’t see any point in this kind of secessionism. Why parting IPA
    text from the rest of the world? One major benefit of 16-bit encoding
    and Unicode is that you *can* do multiscriptive text with one font.
    This what publishing practice demands and what font providers want to
    serve. Even if IPAists fail to recognize it as their very own business.
    Remark: Andron Mega has been used for the German edition of a
    linguistic handbook (ed. Odd Einar Haugen). It contains Latin, Greek,
    IPA, Runic and Ogham in mixed composing. The font replaced 15 different
    fonts which have been neccessary for the original edition. This I say
    not for sake of self-promotion, many colleagues do similar work.

    > Even if your request gets accepted, you can still have fonts that are
    > "unsuitable for IPA", which includes any and all fonts that don't
    > contain these special glyph shapes (whether accessed via variation
    > selector or not).

    It’s actual not me who makes the request. In my fonts Latin and Greek
    and IPA harmonize perfectly, but in other quality fonts which are
    designed according to other principles that match can not be perceived.
    I was confronted with IPA-related criticism about some glyphs in my
    fonts (which is of best glyphics you can imagine). Also Peter Baker
    encountered that debate, more than once.

    >> No, this is not a text data storage problem but a matter of
    >> encoding-based text rendering for the human eye (also referred to as
    >> “typography”).
    > If it's not an encoding problem, then be satisfied using rich text,
    > and separate fonts for IPA and text.

    Sorry, IPA *is* text, as other text is text. To seperate it is simply
    an unlogical and wrong approach. And not everybody is in the position
    to handle rich text functionality.
    > But, clearly, what you are asking for is a way to remove the
    > limitation that requires rich text to fully support mixed IPA and
    > standard text. I'm prepared to accept your evidence that font
    > designers are getting presssure to provide single-font solutions (in
    > other words plain text).

    As I said, Peter Baker just recently reported a request to place extra
    beta and theta in the PUA. I was told “these glyphs in your font are
    not satisfying” which is absurd yet embarrassing enough. Extensive
    discussion took place at Typophile ( ).
    I think it was Peter Farago who proposed to think about encoding beta
    and theta seperately.
    > Adding a new character code for the shape is a non-starter. It would
    > make all existing IPA either invalid or ambiguous. Not something you
    > can do 20 years after the first draft of the standard that contained
    > both Greek and IPA.

    Your reasoning is orthodox (as always ;-) but won’t convince a
    hard-minded IPAist, I believe.
    In the IPA block there are Latinized doubles for Greek alpha, epsilon,
    gamma, iota, closed omega, phi and upsilon; that makes *a third* of the
    entire alphabet (!). Now comes the phoneticist and asks for another two
    of it. On grounds of what argument do you think to win him over that
    his request is not justified –?



    Andreas Stötzner Signographie
    Signographisches Institut Andreas Stötzner i.A. (Pegau/Sa.) Tel. +49-34296-74849 Fax +49-34296-74815
    Willkommen auf

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