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I'm part of a writing group and we are using Plain TeX (well, pdfTeX).

Currently I need to write the symbol ə ("schwa"?), but I have no clue how to do this.

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Here's a Plain TeX way


If you run

pdftex testfont

and at the

Name of the font to test =

prompt you answert tipa10 and at the next prompt you write \table\bye, a table of the font will be output. There you can recognize that ə is at position 0x40, so also


would do.

The tipa font is available in the following incarnations:

tipa8 tipa9 tipa10 tipa12 tipa17
tipasl8 tipasl9 tipasl10 tipasl12 tipasl17
tipabx8 tipabx9 tipabx10 tipabx12 tipabx17

The last two are, respectively "bold" and "bold slanted" (not extended). No italic, unfortunately.

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recognised my rubbish mouse drawing enough to suggest

Score: 0.192759057081711
\usepackage{ tipa }

Clearly the tipa package syntax is latex but the fonts will of course be usable from plain.

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Yes, but the problem is: I'm forced to use plain TeX. That's a great LaTeX solution, though... – Alex Nelson Jul 26 '12 at 16:52
It's easy enough to find out the font latex is using (eg put \showoutput and look in the log, then load that font into plain.) – David Carlisle Jul 26 '12 at 17:42

If you can use TIPA, you can use \textschwa

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