4.0805 R: IPA Fonts (1/80)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 4 Dec 90 00:15:50 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0805. Tuesday, 4 Dec 1990.

Date: Mon, 3 Dec 90 09:46:53 MST
From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov (John E. Koontz)
Subject: Re: 4.0788 Qs: ...; IPA; ...

In reply to Mark Olsen's IPA query, this may be the answer, albeit it is
expensive enough to require institutional support:

The Summer Institute of Linguistics distributes a product that provides
IPA and other phonetic characters for PC's with HP LJ-type printers.

They call the product SIL Premier Fonts. It is based on a collection of
Bitstream bitmapped fonts (not the outlines from which these were
generated), so that the quality is quite good, but the library of fonts
occupies a lot of disk territory. I've been told that they plan to switch
over to Type 1 PS outlines in the foreseeable future, but that product is
not yet available.

SIL PF can generate a set of bitmapped fonts in a range of sizes, faces,
and attributes. The available faces are Dutch, Swiss, Century, and
Freehand, and the available attributes are roman, italic, bold roman,
and bold italic. I forget the range of bitmap sizes available, but it
covers the standard needs. You can specify a custom set of faces,
attributes, and scales to fit your needs.

Each font generated has a custom symbol set, specified by the user from a
large list of standard and phonetic symbols. It is possible to combine
one or more diacritics from the diacritic list with a single base
character, so that you can easily get combinations like a-nasal
hook-acute accent, etc. This lets you specify a symbol set with the
standard ASCII characters in the lower range, for example, and your own
customized characters above this. You can actually specify several
different fonts, though you won't be able to see more than one on the
screen at a time, without recourse to MS Windows.

SIL PF can generate printer drivers for use with MS Word and Ventura. It
can also generate screen fonts for use with EGA/VGA/Hercules RAMFont type
screens, though obviously these are not going to be in any particular
type face! (And you can only see one at a time.)

All-in-all, this sounds pretty nice, but the hitch is that it will cost
you. Most SIL products are dirt cheap, but Bitstream doesn't license
their fonts on that basis. There are site licenses and single machine
licenses. The single machine license is $450 for Times Roman and the
basic package. Additional faces cost $250 (?) each, and the entire set
of four is available for $900. As I recall, the site license prices
were twice this, and a site was designated as a set of buildings
separated by not more than two city streets, e.g., a campus organization
spread over several buildings, etc.

The address is:

Publishing Department
7500 West Camp Wisdom Road
Dallas, TX 75236


The data above are from memory, including the department name, inserted
here in an address taken from another source, so you might want to mark
the envelope something like "SIL Premier Fonts Inquiry" or call instead,

Alternatives: with something like the SoftCraft Font Solution Pack, you
can roll your own fonts. It's a lot more time consuming, but the price
is somewhat lower, even though you get a set of Bitstream outlines
(Dutch and Swiss) to play with. You have to create the phonetic
characters by editing normal characters if you need anything uncommon.
You get the diacritics onto things by cutting and pasting with the font

Digi-fonts offers an outline-based generator that permits one to combine
a number of diacritics with any base character. Their set isn't really
phonetically oriented, and I have seen criticisms of the quality for
smaller scale fonts.


Disclaimer: I have used the SoftCraft FSP, and it is acceptable, but
time consuming to work with. I have not yet used the SIL PF or
Digi-fonts packages. Any recommendation expressed is my own, not that
of my employers.