Sunday, February 28, 2010

Embedded Font Support Test

CSS 3 will eventually include standards for code that tells browsers to temporarily download normal .ttf and .otf fonts needed to display text when they are not present on the machine, and the latest Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers already support this feature. Some additional info can be found here.

I've seen a report that Mobile Safari (e.g. iPad, iPhone) does not support embedded fonts, unless they are converted to SVG format.

I have put up a test page that should make your browser download the Gardiner font (assuming you don't have it already) to display some of the Egyptian heiroglyphs which start at U+13000 in Unicode 5.2. It may take a bit of time for the characters to show up.

This technique has interesting potential for enabling the display of uncommon language scripts without requiring the viewer to deliberately download and install special fonts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fonts That Expand Word 2008 Language Capabilities

MS Word is normally unable to handle Arabic, Hebrew, plus Indic and other complex scripts. But XenoTypeTech has found that with certain fonts Word 2008 for Mac can be used for Tibetan, Khmer, Tai Le, Kannada, and Malayalam. See this page for info.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Keyboard for Tagalog

Thanks to Alex Ibrado there is a new keyboard layout for Tagalog (also known as Baybayin or Alibata), a pre-Spanish writing system used in the Philippines. You can get it here.

OS X does not come with Tagalog fonts, but these should work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

OS X Support for Ideographic Variation Sequences

In an earlier article I noted that Unicode 5.1 added codepoints for Ideographic Variation Sequences (IVS), which can be used to trigger display of glyph variants in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

OS X 10.6 has support for IVS in TextEdit, as described in this recent blog article. All you need is one of the Adobe Pr6N Japanese fonts.

Inputting an IVS is not so simple, however, because Character Viewer won't scroll down to U+E0100 and the Unicode Hex keyboard requires typing in two surrogates. The easiest way is to have UnicodeChecker on your machine. Then you can copy/paste from that or type in the character entity (like 󠄀 ) and convert it via the html > unicode item in the Services menu.

PS I see now an easier way. You can put the IVS characters in the Kotoeri dictionary and invoke them via vs0, vs1, etc. directly from the Kotoeri IM. Here is a demo page I did using that method.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Language Fixes in Office for Mac 2011?

MS has now released info on the new features expected in Office for Mac 2011 here. It's hard to believe, but there is no indication that the much-requested support for Arabic, Hebrew, and Indic scripts has been included.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Typing Naʻvi

Na'vi is the constructed language of the inhabitants of the moon Pandora in the fiction movie Avatar. Though its native speakers have no writing system (as far as we know), Na'vi is represented in Latin script for earthlings' learning purposes.

The alphabet is the same as English, except for the accented vowels ì and ä, plus a glottal stop represented by ’ . All of the required characters can be made easily using the normal US keyboard layout -- ì is Option/alt + ` then i, and ä is Option/alt + u, then a.

While the author of the language has employed underlines to indicate syllable stress, this is impossible in plain text, so an acute accent might be used as an alternative (made via Option/alt + e, then the vowel).

Ideally for digital representation of Na'vi something other than the straight or curly Apostrophe (U+0027 or U+2019) should be used for the glottal stop, because this character is actually "punctuation" rather than a "letter" and is often ignored in text processing operations like sorting, matching, and searching. Also it cannot be used in an internet domain name.

To avoid such problems one can use the Modifier Letter Turned Comma (U+02BB) or the Modifier Letter Apostrophe (U+02BC). The former is found for the glottal stop in Hawaiian (called ʻOkina) and the latter in Navajo. Unfortunately these are not available on the US keyboard, so one would have to make a custom layout for Naʻvi.

You can download an experimental Na'vi keyboard here. It puts ì, ä, and U+02BC on the [, ], and \ keys, and the acute accent vowels on the Option/alt keys.

For a good site with materials and forums on Na'vi, see

For the language creator's site, see