Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Typing Hawaiian

OS X includes a special keyboard layout for the Hawaiian Language (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi), which puts the macron vowels which it uses (ā ē ī ō ū) on the Option key of the normal letter. This layout also replaces the normal apostrophe (') with the Unicode "modifier letter turned comma" ʻ (U+02BB) used by Hawaiian to represent the glottal stop (ʻokina). ( For the normal apostrophe you can type Option + ', and for the left single you you type for Option + ] )

If you put ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi at the top of the list in System Preferences/International/Languages you may be surprised at how your files sort by name, since they will follow the order of the Hawaiian alphabet, with the English letters Hawaiian doesnʻt use tacked on at the end: a e i o u h k l m n p w ʻ b c d f g j q r s t v x y z.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Fonts for Arabic Script Languages

Because of the different technologies used by Mac's and PC's for complex scripts (AAT and OpenType respectively), it has long been necessary to use different fonts on the two platforms for languages written in Arabic script. Also AAT fonts are uncommon, so Arabic script on a Mac (unless you used particular apps like Mellel or OpenOffice) was essentially limited to the Geeza Pro font supplied with OS X and two fonts (Scheherazade and Lateef) provided by SIL.

Thanks to the Iranian Mac User Group (IRMUG), there is now available a new set of Arabic script fonts, XBZar, which contain both technologies and should thus display the same on both platforms and in all applications that support Unicode. XBZar, which has regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic typefaces, can be downloaded here.

Tiger (but not Panther) has some bugs that cause problems with this font. If you have an Intel Mac, you must be running 10.4.9 for it to work right. On a PPC Mac, 10.4.2 is sufficient.

For more info on typing Arabic script languages, see this page.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Typing Etruscan

Etruscan is an ancient extinct language that preceded Latin in Italy and whose writing system is one of earliest examples of the English alphabet. This script is in Unicode under the name "Old Italic." MPH 2B Damase and Code2001 are free fonts that cover it, and a keyboard layout can be downloaded from my iDisk or here.

Etruscan was often written right-to-left, and the fonts mentioned above reflect this direction in the way the letters are oriented. To input this correctly you should use the application Mellel, set for RTL. An alternative is to use another Unicode-savvy app like TextEdit, but precede your text with the Unicode character 202E to force the correct direction. The keyboard on my iDisk has 202E on the ` key and 202C (used to end an RTL segment) on the = key. These should also be used in web pages, but not all browsers may display the correct direction.

Here is an Etruscan Test Page.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Reading Cuneiform

Cuneiform is a script used to write a number of languages of the ancient Middle East, such as Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hittite. Since version 5.0 Sumero-Akkadian Cuneiform is part of Unicode, but until recently there have not been any fonts publically available. Now you can download one for the Hittite version of the script here.

Cuneiform was used for such a variety of languages over such a long period that the form of its glyphs showed considerable evolution over time and place. Thus different fonts are required to correctly display the forms used in Neo Sumerian (which appear in the Unicode charts), and those used in Old, Middle, and New Babylonian and Assyrian, Hittite or Elamite.

The only way to input Cuneiform at present is via the Character Palette or copy/paste.

Here are some test pages for Hittite, Akkadian, and Sumerian.

Different, alphabetic cuneiform scripts are also used for Old Persian and Ugaritic. For info on fonts and keyboards for these, see the blog entries for Unicode 4.1 and Unicode 4.0.