Re: Latin IPA letter a

From: Michael Everson <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:51:31 +0100

On 28 Jun 2011, at 09:28, Jean-François Colson wrote:

> In Times New Roman, which is the default font for MS Word (probably the best known word processor), the letters “a” and “ɑ” are indistinguishable in italics.

That is a fault of the font. In Uralic and Germanic linguistics, where both letters are used in italics, the letter “ɑ” when italicized looks like a Greek α in the "cross-over knot" style. See page 20 of for an example.

> The IPA is not meant to be used in italics, however a phonemic transcription is enclosed by solidi and some software consider words between asterisks should be renderd in bold, words between low lines should be underlined and words between solidi should be… italicised.
> Therefore, phonemic transcriptions in an e-mail are sometimes italicized and /a/ and /ɑ/, which represent different sounds, cannot be distinguished.

They can, in a well-designed font. In fact I am preparing an edition of ˈÆlɪsɪz Ədˈventʃəz ɪn ˈWʌndəlænd in IPA, where I use italics in placces where the text uses italics.

> Would it be possible to introduce a Latin small IPA letter a which, in italic style, would be obliqued, not italicized?

I should think not.

Michael Everson *
Received on Tue Jun 28 2011 - 03:53:00 CDT

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