Font-related problem for linguists

Peter Arkadiev peterarkadiev at YANDEX.RU
Thu Mar 1 15:47:40 UTC 2012

Dear all,

to add to this, Unicode fonts create problems with italicizing "æ" to "œ", which is annoying, too, especially for those who occasionally use examples from languages as exotic as Skandinavian.
But this is indeed not a SIL problem, it is a more general Unicode problem.

Best wishes,


01.03.2012, 15:03, "Don Killian" <donald.killian at HELSINKI.FI>:
> Hi all,
> This is perhaps a silly question, but I was wondering if anyone would be
> willing to help with a problem I've been having.
> As far as I'm aware, it's common practice to have single words in
> italics when they're inside text and from another language.  For
> languages with insufficient or non-existent orthographies, this is then
> done in IPA.
> Charis SIL is the only font I personally know of with full support for
> italicized IPA.  Some other fonts can handle most of IPA, e.g. Deja Vu
> Sans and Arial Unicode, but some of the combine characters can cause
> problems.
> However, Charis SIL has a rather annoying feature: when you italicize a
> it becomes ɑ, and in many ATR languages of Africa, the distinction
> between a and ɑ does indeed exist.  To turn this off, you're forced to
> use a user-selected variant of slant-italics, which not all programs
> support, or make your own font, which can cause other problems such as
> with some typesetters or journals, who aren't willing to do that.
> When I emailed SIL, they weren't willing to change the basic function of
> the font because they said there hasn't been a demand for it.
> But right now, this means that linguists are left without a single
> option for a font supporting both IPA and italics.
> If anyone has any alternatives they've used, I'm open to listening, but
> I can't imagine having both italics and IPA in an article or book is
> very rare, and I've seen numerous books which have evidently had
> problems with this.
> And, if anyone else would like to email SIL, their email address is:
> nrsi_intl at  Perhaps more linguists requesting this feature could
> encourage SIL enough to create a font with support for italicized IPA.
> Best,
> Don
> --
> Don Killian
> Researcher in African Linguistics
> Department of Modern Languages
> PL 24 (Unioninkatu 40)
> FI-00014 University of Helsinki
> +358 (0)44 5016437

Peter Arkadiev, PhD
Institute of Slavic Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences
Leninsky prospekt 32-A 119334 Moscow
peterarkadiev at

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