A few years ago there was a discussion here about how to facilitate IPA entry. A user kindly provided this stack app to provide a fly-out keyboard, and in addition there are lots of online character pickers, such as
as well as the SIL IPA keyboards that can be installed at the OS level. So to my mind the issue of how to get Unicode-encoded IPA symbols into questions and answers seems to be adequately addressed.
What is inadequate, to my mind, is the typography of IPA characters on the site. It was suggested here that IPA be rendered using the existing
code formatting mechanism (surrounding all IPA text with backticks), and instinctively that is what I had been doing anyway, even before seeing that suggestion. It works well for isolated glyphs, but is pretty terrible even for the most common diacritics. For example:
a̰ (creaky phonation),
a̤ (breathy phonation),
t̪ (dental). It's even worse when you try to use multiple diacritics, e.g.ː
n̠̥ (retracted + devoiced).
I think this issue can be solved by changing the style sheet for Linguistics SE, so that either:
- text enclosed in backticks is rendered with the Doulos SIL webfont or a similarly capable typeface, or
- text not enclosed in backticks is rendered with the Charis SIL webfont (Charis because it has bold, italic, and bold+italic faces, so it can handle the markdown formatting).
If option 2 is chosen, then obviously the convention would be to not use backticks for IPA text, in which case it could optionally be delimited in the usual ways (i.e., [square brackets] for phonetic transcriptions, /slash brackets/ for phonemic transcriptions, <angle brackets> for explicit reference to a glyph and/or its orthographic use).
Here is a screenshot of what I see on Firefox 37.0.1 on Linux:
Here's a second screenshot of diacritics in one of the comments (with a little shading added to make more clear the relevant parts):
Presumably that devoicing ring is supposed to be on the final
a, not on the
e in "etc".