[Lingtyp] Technology standards in conflict with linguistic standards

Don Killian donald.killian at helsinki.fi
Sat Jul 4 09:22:02 UTC 2015

Dear all,

After fighting with Microsoft Word for the past few weeks, I was 
wondering if there is any way we can find additional standards for 
article and chapter submission?

It seems that a majority of editors still have a fairly strict 
requirement of Microsoft Word and Times New Roman, even if the publisher 
itself is more open to other formats. Times New Roman is more flexible, 
but I have not had very much luck with alternatives to Word (such as 
Open Office or pdfs made from LaTeX).

This is a problem for more than one reason. The biggest problem I can 
see (in addition to the fact that both Word as well as Times New Roman 
are proprietary!) is that the technological requirements do not actually 
support the formatting requirements we suggest. Neither Word nor Times 
New Roman support the IPA in its entirety.

While these problems do not affect all linguists (such as those who do 
not have certain sounds in their languages they work on), it definitely 
affects plenty of others.

For instance, there is no way to change glyph selection in Word, and <a> 
changes to <ɑ> when italicized. It is relatively common to italicize 
words when you mix languages in text. But if you are discussing a 
language which has both a and ɑ, this is problematic. Furthermore, Word 
has no way of rendering the MH or HM tonal contours properly, in any 
font. Those symbols are only supported in Charis SIL and Doulos SIL 
fonts, and Word renders them incorrectly.

There are plenty of other difficulties (e.g. making a vowel chart), so 
these are just some examples.

I realize the main reason for using Word/TNR is simplicity and what 
people are used to, but I do find it problematic that our technology 
requirements do not support or make it easy to deal with common problems 
in our field.

Is there any way to change this? LaTeX does support almost everything I 
have ever needed, but I admit it is not always very easy to learn or 
use. I would be happy to hear alternative views or suggestions.



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