December 04, 2006

Unicode 5.0 is here

I just got my copy of The Unicode 5.0 Standard, by the Unicode Consortium (Addison-Wesley, 2006; ISBN 0-321-48091-0; 1470 pages plus a CD ROM; $59.99). The excellent Berkeley-trained linguist Ken Whistler is one of the 14 editors. This is the most spectacularly nerdy book I have ever seen. All the details about how all the writing systems in all the world are to be encoded in a standard way for computer systems. And I know who's going to love it: Bill Poser, of Language Log's Asian Writing Systems and Open Source Software departments, is going to be squealing with delight. He'll need two copies minimum, one for the office and one for the nightstand by his bed.

Details of the IPA phonetic symbols you sometimes see on Language Log can mostly be found in pages 591-601, though for a fuller introduction to their phonetic values you'll want either Phonetic Symbol Guide (University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition 1996; ISBN 0226685365; $21, excellent price) or Handbook of the International Phonetic Association (1999; Cambridge University Press; ISBN 0521637511; $27.99, very good price) or some suitable introduction to phonetics such as A Practical Introduction to Phonetics (by J. C. Catford; Oxford University Press; 2nd edition 2002; ISBN 0199246351; $32.95, pretty good price) or A Course in Phonetics (by Peter Ladefoged; Heinle; 5th edition 2005; ISBN 1413006884; $73.95 or more, a fine book at a disgraceful price). And for entering phonetic symbols on web pages, take a look at the wonderful page by John Wells (University College London) on IPA in Unicode, and click on Inserting IPA symbols in web documents.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at December 4, 2006 10:21 AM