Yan-nhaŋu glottals and LaTeX

This post will probably be of interest only to the (rather small number of) people who use LaTeX to typeset Yolŋu Matha. Yolŋu Matha uses a symbol for the glottal stop which is basically an apostrophe ‘ without smart quotes turned on (it dates from the days before smart quotes). These days there is a small movement amongst Yolŋu typesetters to distinguish quotation marks from the glottal. This turns out to be surprisingly hard to do in LaTeX. Prime symbols won’t work, the verbatim environment doesn’t work, the IPA primary stress mark doesn’t work. What does look ok, however, is the tipa vertical bar accent with some space fudging.


to be precise.


4 responses to “Yan-nhaŋu glottals and LaTeX

  1. I assume that the reason \verb doesn’t work is that it switches to the monospaced font?

    If you use XeLaTeX, then you can use the fontspec package, and refrain from using the Mapping=tex-text option; this will cause straight vertical apostrophes not to turn into curved apostrophes/right single quotes. On the other hand, doing this means that you’d have to use “smart” quotes in your source file whenever you want them to appear, so if you’re used to using ` and ‘, it could be a bit of a pain.

    Alternatively, if you use the Linux Libertine font, you can use the command \\useTextGlyph{fxl}{quotesingle} to specify the vertical apostrophe.

  2. Oops; there’s an extra backslash in there.

  3. “so if you’re used to using ` and ‘, it could be a bit of a pain”

    Unless of course you’re using a Mac with one of the English keyboards, in which case “” are available as Opt+[ and Opt+Shift+[, and ‘’ are available as Opt+] and Opt+Shift+].

    I highly recommend people avoid using the Mapping=tex-text option because it defeats one of the major purposes of XeTeX which is to use Unicode consistently and properly for encoding text. The tex-text mapping is really only meant as a backwards compatibility option for older documents. Once you have a reliable method of inputting “” and ‘’, it’s easy enough to search and replace all instances of ` and ‘ in your document.

    Also, in my humble opinion, writing systems which use quotes as orthographic symbols (rather than punctuation) should avoid using them as quotation marks. Instead there’s the much less ambiguous «» and ‹› for quoting.

  4. XeLaTeX and the learner’s guide document don’t coexist very happily for some reason. I need to spend a bit of time with TeXShop and the compilation engines. There’s something about epsfig that’s working strangely (or rather not working). There’s also a backwards compatibility issue in that I use miktex and winedt on my pc (I find texshell pretty hard to use) and winedt isn’t unicode compliant.

    The problem is using the straight quote for the glottal. If they used the single curly quote there’d be no problem; we could use that for glottals and double quotation marks for speech.

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