Jul 23

The International Phonetic Alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet A-Z, with a lot of extensions. There are extensions like “Latin script a” ɑ, like “Latin epsilon” ɛ, like “Latin gamma” ɣ, like “Latin eng” ŋ, like “Latin phi” ɸ, and so on. Notice the following:

  • Latin ɛ is fairly similar to Greek ε, though its capital is Ɛ and the Greek’s is Ε.
  • Latin ɣ is rather different to to Greek γ being symmetrical with a loop; its capital is Ɣ and the Greek’s is Γ.
  • Latin ɸ is distinctly different from Greek φ, having strong serifs in its ascender and descender; it has no capital and the Greek’s capital is Φ.

And this is fine. These Latin letters were “disunified” from Greek a long time ago, and the UCS contains all of them as uniquely encoded characters. Three letters, however, were not disunified, and are problematic.

  • U+03B2 ( β ) GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA
  • U+03B8 ( θ ) GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA
  • U+03C7 ( χ ) GREEK SMALL LETTER CHI

Now the first and third of these do have non-Greek shapes, just as Latin phi does. Here’s an example from Daniel Jones’ Outline of English Phonetics (1932)—click on the image to see it larger if you like:
Latin beta from Jones 1932

Now, the serifs on that beta’s descender are very atypical indeed in Greek typography. Moreover, the fact that the letter is unified with Greek can cause some troubles in sorting multilingual data, since oin a typical English or German or French sort (for instance) the Latin alphabet sorts first, then the Greek alphabet, then the Cyrillic, and then others. In practice this means that β does not sort after b (where one might expect it), but after z.

The IPA chi can also differ from the typical Greek chi. In the 1949 Handbook of the IPA, the serifs on the letter are on the top-right to bottom-left branch of the x; the other branch is curved.
Latin beta from Jones 1932
A point to remember is that the intent of the IPA chi was originally not that it was unified with Greek chi, but rather that it was different:

The non-roman letters of the International Phonetic Alphabet have been designed as far as possible to harmonise well with the roman letters. The Association does not recognise makeshift letters; it recognises only letters which have been carefully cut so as to be in harmony with the other letters, For instance, the Greek letters included in the International Phonetic Alphabet are cut in roman adaptations.

Let’s compare capital and small Latin Xx, Greek Χχ, and that IPA chi. Now it’s possible that because Greek fonts have been in use for a good while that some people might prefer a greekish glyph to a latinish glyph. Nevertheless, take note of the weight of that older IPA chi, and compare it to the “stretched x” shape.
Exes and chis
But in fact there’s another reason to encode a Latin chi. Lepsius made use of it in his transcription of Chukchi, and there its capital is entirely different from the capital used in Greek. Now, there is precedent for just this kind of thing being a reason to disunify: Cyrillic Ԛ and ԛ (used in Kurdish) were disunified from Latin Q and q because the capital Cyrillic one sometimes looks like an oversized small one.
Latin beta from Jones 1932
So, what it looks like is that we have the following—Latin x, Greek chi, and Latin chi (both greekish and latinish glyphs are shown):
Exes and chis
Let’s assume that LATIN LETTER CHI and LATIN LETTER BETA get encoded (leaving aside the question of THETA for now). Now the big question for the IPA is, what should be done when they are? The current recommendation is “use GREEK LETTER CHI”, but of course there’s no alternative. When there is… well, I for one would prefer a Latin letter that sorts between x and y, rather than a Greek letter that sorts between φ and ψ.

There is certainly data out there using the Greek letters β and χ and θ. Of course, there is also data out there using non-Unicode fonts, or SAMPA, or other things. In my opinion, the right thing to do is bite the bullet, get Latin beta, chi, and theta encoded, and get the recommediations promulgated through fonts and keyboard drivers. But I do not know what the view of the International Phonetic Association might be.

Here is an example of some functionality related to this. I created a number of folders named “a_la”, where the “_” is replaced by various letters.

Sorting folders
It’s easy to see that in the Mac OS, Latin letters sort before Greek. Thorn þ sorts correctly after z. Eth ð after d. IPA ɡ after g, followed by IPA gamma ɣ. Small capital ɪ and Latin iota ɩ follow i, as expected. Then, after þ, we see that the Greek alphabet appears in its correct order. But I am sure that I want IPA beta to sort after b, not after þ, and likewise IPA chi after x. I am torn between wanting IPA theta to sort after t or after þ, but probably the former. Anyway, I want a disunification of these three IPA letters from Greek.

Jul 23

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of John Kendrick Bangs’ Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream, an economic parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream
From the introduction:

John Kendrick Bangs (1862–1922) was born in Yonkers, New York, and is known for his work as an author, editor, and satirist. In 1884 he became an Associate Editor of Life, later working at Harper’s Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Harper’s Young People, in the position of “Editor of the Depart­ments of Humor” for all three from 1889 to 1900. Later he worked as editor of Munsey’s Magazine, of Harper’s Literature, and of the New Metropolitan magazine, and in 1904 he was appointed editor of Puck, perhaps the foremost American humour magazine of its day.

Bangs made two contributions to the Carrollian world. In 1902 with Charles Macauley he wrote what Caroline Sigler calls “an Alice-like fantasy”, Emblemland, a in which a young American boy named Rollo visits a strange country peopled with symbols and icons. Macauley’s line drawings are charming and some of the verse in the book is reminiscent of Carroll’s.

In Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream, Bangs makes light of a range of economic issues familiar to his 1907 readers—all of which are topical and all-too familiar to today’s reader as well. High taxes, corporate greed, bribery, institutional corruption, and govern­mental incompetence are among the themes of this book.

As an Alice imitation per se, Bangs’ Alice in Blunderland is not, perhaps, one of the most successful in recreat­ing the atmo­sphere of Wonder­land. In some regards it relies more on absurdity than it does on nonsense, and some of the humour is indeed rather American. A sequel like A New Alice in the Old Wonder­land by Anna Matlack Richards has considerably more weight as a novel, but to some degree this reflects Richards’ interest in responding to, and subverting, Carroll’s original story. Bangs’ intention—and in this he succeeds—is to make his reader smile wryly rather than laugh out loud, for his satire is very much on target.

“Yes,” said the Hatter. “The March Hare and the White Knight and I. We’ve started a city to do it with. We’ve sprinkled our streets with Rough on Copperations until there isn’t one left in the place. Everything in town belongs to the People—streetcars, gutters, pavements, theatres, electric light, cabs, manicures, dogs, cats, canary birds, hotels, barber shops, candy stores, hats, umbrellas, bakeries, cakeries, steakeries, shops—you ca’n’t think of a thing that the city don’t own. No more private ownership of anything from a toothbrush to a yacht, and the result is we are all happy.”

“It sounds fine,” said Alice. “Though I think I should rather own my own toothbrush.”

“You naturally would, under the old system,” assented the Hatter. “Under a system of private ownership, owning your own teeth, you’d prefer to own your own toothbrush, but our Council has just passed a law making teeth public property. You see we found that some people had teeth and other people hadn’t, which is hardly a fair condition under a Republican form of Government. It gave one class of citizens a distinct advantage over other people and the Declaration of Independ ence demands absolute equality for all. One man owning his own teeth could eat all the hickory nuts he wanted just because he had teeth to crack ’em with, while another man not having teeth had either to swallow ’em whole, which ruined his digestion, or go without, which wasn’t fair.”

“I see,” said Alice.

Jul 09

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of the 1869 translation by Henri Bué of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in French.


From the introduction:

Lewis Carroll est un nom de plume : le vrai nom de cet auteur était Charles Lutwidge Dodgson ; il était professeur de mathématiques à Christ Church à Oxford. Dodgson inventa l’histoire d’Alice le 4 juillet 1862, lors d’une promenade en barque sur la Tamise, à Oxford, en compagnie du Révérend Robinson Duckworth, d’Alice Liddell, la fille du Doyen de Christ Church (qui avait alors dix ans), et de ses deux sœurs, Lorina (qui avait treize ans) et Edith (qui avait huit ans). Ainsi que l’explicite le poème au début du livre, les trois fillettes demandèrent à Dodgson une histoire et c’est d’abord à contrecœur qu’il commença à leur raconter la première version de l’histoire. On peut retrouver de nombreuses références à demi cachées à eux cinq dans le texte du livre même.

Cette édition présente la première traduction en français de 1869 pour le lecteur moderne. La traduction d’Henri Bué fut la deuxième traduction d’Alice dans une autre langue. Bué demanda l’avis de Lewis Carroll pour cette traduction, que l’on qualifia de « traduction autorisée ».

Lewis Carroll is a pen-name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was the author’s real name and he was lecturer in Mathematics in Christ Church, Oxford. Dodgson began the story on 4 July 1862, when he took a journey in a rowing boat on the river Thames in Oxford together with the Reverend Robinson Duckworth, with Alice Liddell (ten years of age) the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, and with her two sisters, Lorina (thirteen years of age), and Edith (eight years of age). As is clear from the poem at the begin ning of the book, the three girls asked Dodgson for a story and reluctantly at first he began to tell the first version of the story to them. Many half-hidden references are made to the five of them throughout the text of the book itself, which was published finally in 1865.

This edition presents the first translation into French of 1869 for the modern reader. The translation by Henri Bué was the second translation of Alice into any language. Bué consulted with Lewis Carroll on the translation, which was described as “authorized”.

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