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As you know there are two forms of lowercase letter A: 'a' and 'ɑ'. I am writing a linguistics article and use IPA where the two characters denote different things. There are cases where I want to type an italic 'a' but the italic form of this letter (at least in my Latex) looks like an italic 'ɑ'. Is there a way type a proper italic 'a'? I'm using Xelatex (I'm willing to switch if necessary). Is there maybe a font that can handle the issue?

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    This is the proper italic 'a' according to the designer of the font. You could use slanted/oblique \textsl instead of italics, which preserves the general shape of the letters. Or you could look for a font that does not change to the 'Latin alpha' shape in italics (some sans serif fonts don't, most serif fonts with true italics that I just checked do change the shape of the 'a'). – moewe Feb 22 '20 at 7:04
  • (As a side note: Maybe the sans serif fonts I looked at could be described as not having true italics, but only slanted italics, so that's that.) Possibly interesting graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/q/104048, github.com/IBM/plex/issues/115. For IPA in TeX tex.stackexchange.com/q/36542/35864 (mostly for the link). – moewe Feb 22 '20 at 7:23
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    IPA is for phonetic and phonemic transcriptions, and such transcriptions should never be set in italics. – Sverre Feb 22 '20 at 14:37
  • Well I simplified the problem to get to the solution. In reality I'm not using IPA exactly. I'm just borrowing the particular IPA symbols 'a' and 'ɑ' in a non-IPA context, and I need to italicize them. – Roozbehan Feb 23 '20 at 16:57
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    Does this answer your question? Fonts, italics and IPA 'a' characters – hftf Apr 3 at 12:19
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You could switch to a font that is made for this use case, e.g. Charis SIL. It has wide Unicode support including IPA and it has a stylistic style set for switching to a two-story italic a. Example:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{Charis SIL}[StylisticSet=5]

\begin{document}
aáäå \textit{aáäå}

[ʃ ʒ] [ɕ ʑ] [ʂ ʐ]
\end{document}

Result:

enter image description here

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Build your own.

The IPA Extensions Unicode block has ɐɑ in it (U+0250 and U+0251).

Turning ɐ upside-down (that old trick!) will do it.

You need a font with IPA Extensions, and the \rotatebox command from the graphicx package.

Two a s

MWE

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{graphicx}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{Noto Serif}%Charis SIL}[StylisticSet=5]

\begin{document}

ɐ \& ɑ

xxx \rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{ɐ} \rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{\textit{ɐ}} xxx
 ɑ \textit{ɑ}

 aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą

\textit{aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą} 

\textsl{aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą}

[ʃ ʒ] [ɕ ʑ] [ʂ ʐ]
\end{document}

For ease of use, you can define a shortcut macro \newcommand\dsitalica{\rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{\textit{ɐ}}}, or similar (depending on where you want to put the font commands).

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There are international symbols (characters) for phonetics. Check e.g. the "The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List" on CTAN. You'd probably need to get/install/configure special fonts for this.

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