Re: Greek characters in IPA usage

From: Martin J. Dürst (
Date: Tue Aug 25 2009 - 22:55:05 CDT

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    On 2009/08/20 19:09, Julian Bradfield wrote:

    > But simple editing (e.g. search and replace) is an example.
    > It's true that I'm unlikely to use Greek beta and IPA beta in the same
    > paper, because I don't work on Greek. However, I do deal with
    > formalizations of phonological theories. In describing grammatical
    > re-writing rules, it is conventional (among mathematicians and
    > computer scientists) to use (mathematical) Greek letters to stand for
    > strings of "letters" from the grammatical alphabet. If I'm giving a
    > phonological re-writing rule, how am I to distinguish the string
    > variable β from the phoneme symbol IPA beta?
    > Of course, it can be done by markup -

    Yes indeed. In HTML, you have <var> for this purpose. I use it a lot (in
    general for variables, not restricted to re-writing rules) because it
    easily makes sure the semantics are right and the presentation is italic.

    > but Unicode has gone to all the
    > trouble of encoding several maths alphabets, because font distinctions
    > are significant, and Unicode (don't ask me why) thinks people should
    > be able to write maths in plain text.

    That part of Unicode was (and is) highly disputed and criticized.

    > This is another case where what looks like a font distinction is a
    > semantically significant distinction, and should be encoded.

    Not exactly, because contrary to the Math case, it's not a distinction
    within a single writing systemm.

    Regards, Martin.

    #-# Martin J. Dürst, Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University

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