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My documents (compiled using XeTeX for the most part) make use of the transliteration system adopted by the Brill Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. I had hoped to use Linux Libertine as my main font, but it doesn't handle "stacked" diacritics very well. I've tested a few options, with mixed results:

screenshot

The first three (Brill, Charis SIL, and Gentium Plus) all work nicely. Unfortunately, Linux Libertine and even TeX Gyre Pagella (which also lacks ɛ) don't raise the macron when it's "stacked".

My questions:

  • Can the poorly performing fonts be "corrected" in some way via TeX commands?
  • Or is this a font problem? In which case I'll have to use a "good" font, so...
  • Is there a list of well-behaved fonts for such diacritics? or is it a case of test-and-see?

My test string (Genesis 1:1), FWIW, is:

bərēšīṯ bå̄rå̄ʾ ʾɛ̆lōhīm ʾēṯ haššå̄mayim wəʾēṯ hå̄ʾå̄rɛṣ

  • Linux Libertine and Libertinus Serif have an almost decent placement of the double diacritic in upright shape. The TeX Gyre fonts lack several glyphs. – egreg Feb 20 '16 at 18:36
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    You should use the fonts that work. Any reason not to? – Joseph Feb 20 '16 at 23:09
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This is definitely a font problem. As you note, the fonts designed specifically for linguistics applications (Brill and the SIL fonts) are the best at dealing with diacritic stacking, but they all have limitations of their own (e.g., Charis SIL is the only SIL font with true bold, italic, and small caps, but it doesn't have OpenType ligatures like Linux Libertine O does).

I don't know of a font list that specifically considers diacritic stacking, but I did some trial and error of my own when writing this answer, so there are a few more fonts listed and illustrated there.

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I suggest to go back to good old TeX's accents. So instead of using Unicode's combining accents for things like å with macron, use \={å}.

For more complicated accentings, the tipa package is very useful.

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