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Iranica Unicode Substitutions Test


Encyclopædia Iranica uses characters which differ
in appearance from print to online edition

TrueTypeAdobe Type 1OpenType No font is specified for display of this web page. It will display the default Latin-based font set for your browser. Click here to see a similar page with specific fonts assigned.

Encyclopædia Iranica has announced the re-launch of their web site using Unicode, replacing the old custom 8-bit font. Unfortunately, they have chosen to use some non-standard character substitutions. I doubt these are wise and have prepared this web page to address the issue.

The rationale, as explained on the site, is that

"Many less commonly occurring combinations of letter plus diacritic are not defined in Unicode as single code points. In Iranica, these are most likely to be seen in entries on linguistic topics, and in any entry that cites the Avestan language. Iranica chose not to use Unicode’s Combining Diacritical Marks, because the on-screen resolution of a series of two or three code points for one complex character is not predictable, depending on the user’s operating system and browser. Instead, either two characters or similar-looking singe [sic] characters were used, thus ensuring the stability of the text that is presented, regardless of the user environment."

Is it practical to use substitutes when Unicode has the characters needed and current browsers and operating systems can display them? My initial reaction is that substitute characters defeat the purpose of Unicode and will create many thousands of pages of incorrectly coded academic documents. I suggest that the encoding job should be done correctly the first time -- and that the online edition not be held hostage by older operating systems.

It was acceptable to require the download and installation of a custom 8-bit font for many years. Why not simply advise users to now install one of  several excellent Unicode fonts and use a current browser?

To view the below chart correctly, you must have a Unicode font containing the necessary characters. In order of preference, download and install one of the specified fonts. The list contains fonts with which I am familiar that meet the requirement and display satisfactorily.

There is no CSS font-family class designated for this page, so the default Latin-based font for your browser will be the one that is shown, and there is no fall-back font designated for this web page, but some browsers attempt to find replacement characters from other fonts, eg., Firefox. Because no font is designated, you may experiment with different fonts by setting them as the Latin-based default font for your browser. Click here to see a similar page with specific fonts assigned.

Column one contains the Unicode font character. The second and third columns contain images of the characters used in the EI print and EI online editions, respectively. Please send feedback to Chris Hopkins if you are unable to see the column one characters properly.

Actual
Unicode 5
font
Character
Image of
character in
EI print
edition
Image of
substitute in
EI online
version
  Actual
Unicode 5
font
Character
Image of
character in
EI print
edition
Image of
substitute in
EI online
version
  Actual
Unicode 5
font
Character
Image of
character in
EI print
edition
Image of
substitute in
EI online
version
ā́ a1 Substitute a1   ī́ i1 Substitute i1   r1 Substitute r1
ā̊ a2 Substitute a2   i2 Substitute i2   r2 Substitute r2
ą̄ a3 Substitute a3   i3 Substitute i3   ṛ́ r3 Substitute r3
ą̇ a4 Substitute a4   j1 Substitute i4   s1 Substitute s1
c1 Substitute c1   k1 Substitute i5   s2 Substitute s2
č̣ c2 Substitute c2   m1 Substitute m1   š́ s3 Substitute s3
ẹ̄ e1 Substitute e1   m2 Substitute m2   ṣ̌ s4 Substitute s4
Ė E2 Substitute E2   n1 Substitute n1   s̄́ s5 Substitute s5
ɛ̄ e3 Substitute e3   ŋ́ n2 Substitute n2   ṣ́ s6 Substitute s6
Ǝ̄ E4 Substitute E4   ọ̄ o1 Substitute o1   t1 Substitute t1
ə̄ e5 Substitute e5   ȫ́ o2 Substitute o2   U1 Substitute U1
ə́ e6 Substitute e6   P1 Substitute P1   ū́ u2 Substitute u2
ə̄́ e7 Substitute e7   P2 Substitute P2   x1 Substitute x1
ə̆ e8 Substitute e8   P3 Substitute p3   x2 Substitute x2
g1 Substitute g1   Q1 Substitute q1   x̣̌ x3 Substitute x3
g2 Substitute g2   q2 Substitute q2   z1 Substitute z1
γ̌ g3 Substitute g3   q3 Substitute q3   ẓ̌ z2 Substitute z2 

Click here for a verification image of the chart above


 

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Online since 28 March 1998
Copyright ©1998-2011 Edward C. D. Hopkins, all rights reserved

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