Diacritic Fonts

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Diacritic Fonts

Contributor(s): David Germano, Nathaniel Grove.

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About Diacritic Fonts in Asian Studies

Special diacritic marks are necessary for using transliteration in Roman script to refer to terms in various Asian languages, such as Sanskrit, Japanese and so forth. The use of proprietary fonts for such diacritic marks is not optimal, since there are several of these fonts and no easy way to convert from one to another. The obvious solution to this problem is the use of Unicode fonts, which utilize a world wide standard for the encoding of these diacritic marks, such that all Unicode fonts are completely interchangeable. While such Unicode fonts are available, the problem has been lack of support in operating systems and applications, as well as the lack of keyboards covering all necessary diacritic symbols. THL has created with the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities a Visual Basic program to input these Unicode diacritic characters in an easy to use fashion within Microsoft Word 2000 for Windows. We plan to later release a version for the Macintosh OS X. We are releasing them under the THL Open Community License. We have also worked with Anne Ingram of the University of Virginia's Instructional Technology Group on creating a keyboard input system that can be used across multiple programs in Windows 2000 and above.

Though there are several Unicode fonts available, their implementation requires operating system support. Microsoft introduced some limited support with Windows '95, but full support came only with NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. Similarly, Apple introduced Unicode with OS 8.5. However, full support was only recently supplied with OS X. Furthermore, the tools for entering Unicode diaciritcs supplied by THL work for certain platforms but not others. Below a simple chart is provided, outlining the system support for Unicode and the availability of input tools. For further more detailed information, the reader is encouraged to visit Alan Wood's Unicode Resources.

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