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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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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Here's a Plain TeX way

\font\tenipa=tipa10
\def\schwa{{\tenipa\char64}}

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

\def\schwa{{\tenipa\char"40}}

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
tipab10
tipabs10

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

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http://detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html

recognised my rubbish mouse drawing enough to suggest

Score: 0.192759057081711
\usepackage{ tipa }
\textschwa
textmode

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
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If you can use TIPA, you can use \textschwa

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