Thursday May 20, 2004

More About Doulos SIL

Last month, I wrote about a newly released font called Doulos SIL that includes the IPA characters, among others. Today I got email from Bob Hallissy of SIL International with a few comments and clarifications, and he kindly gave me permission to post them here.

(Excerpts from my original post are indented twice; Bob's comments are indented once and italicized.)

The good people at SIL have released a new version of their Doulos font, which includes IPA as well as lots of other Latin and Greek letter forms.

While it is true that the font includes some Greek characters, it is not intended to provide general support for Greek language. Those Greek chars included were done so in order to support various (primarily linguistic) notational systems. If Greek language support is needed, the Galatia SIL font is one available option. (Also, Doulos SIL includes complete Cyrillic support, though you didn't mention that.)

Doulos SIL has a lot of diacritics up in the Combining Diacritical Marks range—it looks like it's got all the diacritics that SIL's other all-Latin-and-Greek font, Gentium, has, except: the palatal and retroflex hooks (0321 and 0322), the combining overlay characters (0334-0338), and the combining tone marks (0340-0345). The hooks and the overlays are apparently missing by design—the PDF file that comes with the font explains why. I'd like to know why the tone marks didn't make it in, but I've never used them, so I'll get over it.

This should definitely be in the FAQ :-) The Unicode standard deprecates 0340 and 0341, so we omitted those. The marks 0342 .. 0345 are primarily for Greek usage and, as mentioned above, the font isn't intended to provide general support for Greek.

In addition to various new glyphs, Doulos SIL has "smart font" features that use the OpenType and Graphite technologies. I'm not enough of a font geek to understand all the implications of that statement, but for our linguistic purposes it means that if an application supports those technologies, it will be able to display ligatures and place combining diacritcs much better (including stacking). Unfortunately, MS Word, my current word processor, doesn't support OpenType yet—which is annoying, because Microsoft and Adobe are behind the format. Hopefully, Microsoft will catch up with themselves soon.

I presume you mean doesn't support OpenType for Latin (including IPA) or Cyrillic texts (Word has supported OpenType for a number of non-Roman scripts since Word 2000). In any case, MS Word 2003 does include OpenType support for Latin and Cyrillic. When formatting with Doulos SIL, Word 2003 will do nice things like ligate the tone bars and stack diacritics.

This last bit of information is particularly good news for Word users like me—I'm curious to see just how much better OpenType fonts will look when the layout engine pays attention to the "smart font" features. And all this time I'd been economizing by not upgrading to Office 2003, assuming it didn't have anything I needed. That'll teach me.

By the way, thanks to Bob Hallissy for his email. In addition to clearing up some issues I raised (or was mistaken about) in my original post, it proved that some of the visitors to this site actually read what they find. Sometimes I worry that my traffic consists of a half-dozen other linguabloggers clicking compulsively, plus a bunch of people googling for "tensor" and finding this blog instead of the math site they're after.

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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» Tenser, said the Tensor: More About Doulos SIL from Blinger: A linguistics & ESL Blog
Tensor has written an informative post about theDoulos IPA fonts which is a follow-up on the original. If you have need of using IPA in word documents I would recommend giving this a read. [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2004 1:12:21 AM