9.121 IPA on the WWW

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Thu, 24 Aug 1995 17:59:55 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 121.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
To: mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 95 09:44:04 CST
Subject: IPA on WWW

Charles always poses interesting questions, and this one is of interest to
all of us. At present, as I see it, it is quite difficult to use IPA on WWW.

I think Mosaic, Netscape, etc. all use the ISO 8859-1 (Latin-1), or Western
European code page, sort of like MS-DOS 850, and this does not have most
phonetic symbols. You could imbed them as graphics, I suppose, but that
sounds tedious. Charles mentions SGML, and one could handle the problem by
encoding the IPA, using SGML, e.g. &h-vligature; for the Gothic /hw/ sign;
&zwithrighttail; for a geschwaenztes tset, etc. This would require that both
the communicator and the communicatee both be on the same page, so to speak.
You could make a declaration, indicating what each encoding meant. On such
declarations, see now Priscilla Caplan, "You call it corn, we call it syntax-
independent metadata for document-like objects," PACS Review 6, no. 4 (1995),
19-23. Unfortunately, there is as yet no uniform way to refer to IPA symbols
(see Geoffrey K. Pullum and William A. Ladusaw, _Phonetic Symbol Guide_ [U
Chicago Press, 1986], certainly not authoritative).
Some help is at hand. The Unicode system has the phonetic alphabet under
0250 (perhaps even a good source for standard names). Unfortunately, I do
not think that Windows 95 uses Unicode, nor does 3.1, although Windows NT
did, if I remember correctly. On the problems of 8-bit vs. 16-bit encoding,
see Ken Lunde, _Understanding Japanese Information Processing_ (O'Reilly,
1993). The Unicode Standard, which gains more adherents each day, is
described in two books: _The Unicode Standard, Version 1.0, Volume 1_
(Addison-Wesley, 1990), and _The Unicode Standard, Version 1.0, Volume 2_
(1992), the second devoted to Asian (Han) scripts. The Microsoft Systems
Journal 9.6 (1994), 57 ff. has a good article "Internationalization in
Windows NT, part 1: Programming in Unicode," by William S. Hall. A good
introduction: Peter Kahrel, _Working with Foreign Languages and Characters in
WordPerfect (5.1 and WP for Windows)_ (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1992). For
those with only a casual interest: Bernd Salewski, _Electronic Alphabet_
(Grand Rapids: Abacus, 1994), with accompanying CD-ROM.
Electronically, Fonts-faq is available from the usual faq sources. I
should point out that Gamma Productions, 1-800-974-2662, (619)-794-6399, puts
out a product called UniType which is Unicode compliant. There is a short
notice on this in PC-Magazine 13.16 (1994), 32 (Sept 27, 1994). It installs
in Windows and is therefore available to all Windows programs. Again, the
problem would be to assure oneself that the receiving computer also had
One of the best ways to learn about such things is to join TEI-L:
TEI-L@uicvm.cc.uic.edu and ask the question. They are very helpful and

We are not there yet, but we are getting there.

Jim Marchand.