Re: Latin IPA letter a

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2011 05:25:18 +0200

2011/6/28 Michael Everson <>:
> 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.

Yes, and Times New Roman has other defects when considering rendered widths :

- the straight letter 'a' and its italic letter (that looks like an
angled 'ɑ') are narrow and both exactly the same width. All seems
correct for their widths, with the exception of the letter form for
the italic style (which is in fact incorrect for this letter, or at
least inconsistant for the font family).

- the straight letter 'ɑ' is wide, about 23% wider than straight
letter 'a': this is correct; but its italic letter (that looks like an
angled 'ɑ') is unexpectedly narrower (and in fact it reuses the same
glyph as the narrow italic "a"), so the italic 'ɑ' is also incorrect
(it should be about 10% wider).

Another behavior occurs when considering the bold weight :

- it's OK that all bold straight letters are about 20% larger than
non-bold letters, but we still have the distinction between wide and
narrow letterforms.

- But worse : when using both bold and italic styles, now all letters
have the same width than non-bold italic (this affects ALL letters of
the alphabet).

In other words, character metrics are inconsistant throughout the font
family for bold and/or italic styles, instead of the normal style
(non-bold non-italic) which is the only one with correct metrics.
Received on Thu Jun 30 2011 - 22:27:57 CDT

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