Font-related problem for linguists
kahrel at KAHREL.PLUS.COM
Fri Mar 2 12:26:46 UTC 2012
Martin and I seem to be agreed that the best (if not the only) way to
solve this is to add a character to a Unicode range. Here's why. Suppose
you have some roman text in, say, English, in which a word or a phrase
is used from language B, using the open a. In the roman text, all the
a's look the same. But when you italicise the text, you want the English
a's to look like italic script a's, and the a's in the bits from
language B like slanted a's.
This cannot be solved at the font level. At a practical level,
alternate glyphs are not an option because they're not available in word
processors. Besides, even in typesetters like InDesign, treating the
different a's as alternate glyphs is not an option because you don't
want to go about marking all those alternate glyphs. Besides, treating
the a's as alternate glyphs is wrong because they're not alternates in
the first place, just as e and schwa aren't alternates.
Finally, the only way to ensure the smooth transition from word
processor to typesetting software is via dedicated Unicode points. Any
other solution will require typesetters manually to change some
characters, and I guess you all know what that can lead to.
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