Re: Latin IPA letter a

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:08:58 -0700

On 6/28/2011 1:51 AM, Michael Everson wrote:
> 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.

No, the font does what it's supposed to, which is to give the correct
rendering of the letter 'a' for use in ordinary text. The problem is in
Unicode's unification of the generic letter a with the IPA letter 'a',
which has a restricted glyph range, and, as we now find out, must be
treated differently when styles are applied.

Encoding a new character is not the answer. However, encoding a
standardized variation sequence would be the proper answer. Insisting
that people have control over the font with which text is viewed is to a
degree illusory. Not recognizing that fact is a weakness in Unicode's
1980's based design in this instance.

A standardized variation sequence makes the IPA nature of the IPA 'a'
more portable, while at the same time cleanly allowing text processing
software to treat it like the ordinary 'a', when needed, by simply
ignoring the variation selector.

Why this can be addressed for Han ideographs to the n-th degree, but the
few egregious instances of required glyphic subset restrictions can't be
made portable for Latin escapes me totally.

Time for Unicode to be brought into the 21st century in that respect.

Received on Tue Jun 28 2011 - 11:14:45 CDT

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