Font-related problem for linguists

Spencer, Andrew J spena at ESSEX.AC.UK
Thu Mar 1 12:56:32 UTC 2012

Don, Peter,

Having recommended Charis SIL to students and colleagues I discovered the Unicode-related problems Don mentions, including the problem of slanted/italic 'ash' (æ), which comes out as italic oe ligature (œ).

Somewhat to my surprise, I find that MicroSoft's recent font Cambria has rather better IPA support, at least in this respect. It provides slanted versions for the complete IPA character set, including superscripts such as aspiration. Has anyone encountered any problems with Cambria IPA that I'm unaware of?

Of course, the other alternative is to use LaTeX with the TIPA package. I can put all the IPA symbols into slanted mode provided I use a supported font (Times New Roman - it doesn't necessarily work with other fonts), and XeTeX users can presumably just input Cambria if they want. However, LaTeX doesn't help if you need to share files with non-LaTeX users, of course.


From: Discussion List for ALT [LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] on behalf of Peter Kahrel [kahrel at KAHREL.PLUS.COM]
Sent: 01 March 2012 12:30
Subject: Re: Font-related problem for linguists


Not a silly question at all: it's a common problem. The trouble is that
a and its 'slanted' equivalent have no Unicode position. Charis's
behaviour to italicise a as a slanted is an annoying feature, but
designed and expected. You should appeal to the Unicode consortium
(, not to SIL, so that type foundries (such as SIL) can
place the character somewhere. (Such a request should be pending but it
won't harm if you remind the consortium: the more requests, the quicker
the fix.)

As you said, in the meantime you can create a font with a and its
slanted equivalent (if you know how). Use that for your own purposes.
Use a position from the Private Use range, say E000. Then when you
submit a text for publication, tell the editor that E000 represents a
and its slanted version, and give them your font. If the typesetters
can't deal with that, the publisher should find someone else.


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