I'm a LaTeX newbie, so please, bear with me (also, I'm not an English native speaker, so I apologise in advance for all my grammar/spelling mistakes).

I'm using LaTeX to format my translation of one chapter of a book (from English to Polish, the subject of the book being a French author reading an ancient Greek one [Racine reading Euripides to be precise] - as you can see there's bound to be many languages there). I've already translated the whole thing and now I'm doing the footnotes and there the problem appeared:

some Polish text - Litwo, ojczyzno moja
\selectlanguage{french}'Vous vous taisez?'
\selectlanguage{polish} coś tam
\selectlanguage{polutonikogreek} sig~a|s t'i pr`os g~hn '>omma s`on bal`wn '>eqeis

I know - this particular code does not produce any problems but my whole text is longer and everything is all right as long as I don't include this line:

\selectlanguage{polutonikogreek} sig~a|s t'i pr`os g~hn '>omma s`on bal`wn '>eqeis

By itself it poses no problems (tried making a document that would have only this one line and it had no problems), also there is no problem when it is included in the main text (I have more greek text there and not a single part of it poses any problem) - but it is in a footnote (one that has the \selectlanguage command 8 times in it) and every time I try to compilate the whole thing with it I get this error: Command /k unavailable in encoding OT1. Also the Polish diacritical signs (ą ę) stop showing up after that. Why is it so and is there any possibility of changing it? There are several more footnotes awaiting translation and almost every single one includes some ancient Greek text together with other languages...

  • it would be useful if you make a MWE with a footnote that shows the problem (even though using T1 fonts might solve your problem). I wonder if this may not be a bug in babel. Jul 27, 2012 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


OT stands for "old text encoding"; I believe it's not necessary at all.




Litwo, ojczyzno moja ą ę
\foreignlanguage{french}{<<Vous vous taisez?>>}
coś tam
\foreignlanguage{greek}{sig~a|s t'i pr`os g~hn '>omma s`on bal`wn '>eqeis}

enter image description here

Don't use \selectlanguage to switch languages for small excerpts. Better use \foreignlanguage or the environment otherlanguage* for longer passages.

  • Thanks a lot, that solved it! I'm not actually having small excerpts (only I didn't want the example to become too long so there they were) but I will look into the difference between \selectlanguage and \foreignlanguage.
    – Tzigi
    Jul 27, 2012 at 20:19
  • @Tzigi \selectlanguage changes all features, including the fixed words ("chapter", "table of contents" and so on). For longer passages, I recommend \begin{otherlanguage*}{french}...\end{otherlanguage*}
    – egreg
    Jul 27, 2012 at 20:27
  • @Tzigi Welcome to the site...if your question is answered, it's best to click the check mark next to the best answer, and upvote that answer plus any others that helped. Jul 27, 2012 at 22:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .