Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

After talking with people here about fonts pretty regularly, I thought I’d encourage anybody not already converted to Unicode to do it.  In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, Unicode fonts are allow different languages to stay the same across a variety of fonts.  That is, greek stays looking like greek instead of jibberish when you switch fonts. 

I caught the bug just before moving from Dan Wallace at DTS, and it’s so much easier than worrying about what font I have turned on.  It’s definitely where things are headed, so you might as well get with it.  The Tyndale Tech Bulletin has a decent summary of things, and NT Gateway, as usual.  For those that want more indepth info check out this summary by Rodney Dekker.

I’m a fan of Gentium (again, thanks to Dan Wallace), and Phil Gons has a sample of the main greek polytonic (i.e., with accents, etc.) fonts for you to browse (see his PDF link).  I’m using Gentium for my thesis (english and grk) so no worries about switching for different languages.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Hebrew as a part of the font, so Cardo seems to be popular there.

[Update 6 Mar 09:  Here’s a link to a map of the Unicode Greek Keyboard]

Some people use a typing program, but microsoft windows allows you to easily switch between keyboards for different languages, and the font automatically recognises which you are in.  I use this all the time for not just english and greek, but also german and french.  Here’s how to set it up (Win XP):

1) Click Start: Control Panel: Regional and Language Options: Languages [tab]: Details [button]
2) Add a new ‘keyboard’: Click Add [button], Choose the input language [drop down list] (e.g., Greek, German, French, etc.), Check the ‘Keyboard Layout’ box, Choose the Keyboard Layout [drop down list] (for Greek choose the ‘Greek Polytonic’, for French I found the ‘Canadian French’ most similar to the US/UK keyboard)

‘OK’ yourself back out of all the menus.  There should be a small (blue) box on the bottom right hand of your screen near the clock that has ‘EN’ (english), ‘DE’ (German), ‘FR’ (French), or ‘EL’ (Greek).  If you press the LEFT ALT key and the SHIFT key simultaneously, windows will automatically switch between all the keyboards you have set up.  This can be done in any program at any time.  So whether you are in Word, BibleWorks, Logos, IE blogging, or whatever, you can automatically switch between languages for typing.  So easy!  This way you don’t have to download/pay for any keyboard programs. 

One caviat, different language keyboards have letters in different places.  So google the specific keyboard for different keys.  E.g., on the German keyboard y and z are switched.  The Greek keyboard this process sets up is the keyboard used in Greece, and it is a little different than the keystrokes set up for BibleWorks or SBL greek fonts.  For instance, you use ‘dead’ keys for accents. (Type the single quote then an ‘a’ for ἀ [alpha with smooth breathing]).

As opposed to Mardi Gras, the people in the UK celebrate Shrove Tuesday.  The term shrove, per wikipedia, is from an old english term related to confession, penance, and absolution.  The day is associated with pancakes (but these are more similar to crepes). 

From what I understand, pancakes generally are not nearly as popular in the UK as in the US as a regular food–no IHOPs, etc.  Per my pastor’s family they [waffles] are considered a savoury (rather than sweet food), so you wouldn’t add sweet syrup.  When they visit the US and their son orders ketchup with his pancakes, they always get weird looks, but what else would you put on a savoury dish?  Maybe brown gravy?

[Update: Ok my wife told me that it was waffles that my pastor was talking about not pancakes–oops–and that pancakes if they are eaten are a desert food, so you would not mix them with savoury stuff like eggs and bacon.]