Sunday, 20 January 2008

Tyndale Tech Email: Unicode Fonts

David Instone-Brewer of Tyndale House continues to amaze with his occassional Tyndale Tech emails. His latest email concerns the use of Unicode Fonts. The email is reproduced below. Read it and be convinced!

Unicode Fonts Unite Biblical Studies

In the bad old days you had to worry about Greek and Hebrew fonts.Now everyone is using Unicode. Well... everyone who wants to communicate.Unicode means everyone can read what you write, on a PC, Mac or web browser,in Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, complext transliteration, or even English,Hebrew is formatted right-to-left, and wraps at the end of lines properly. And things continue to get easier.

1) Unicode Installation Easier

2) Unicode Bibles and Unicode on your Bible Software

3) Converting old fonts to Unicode

4) Unicode TLG, with INSTANT lexicon lookup

5) Unicode Greek & Hebrew Bible on Palms and other PDAs

6) Help, I've got an old computer!

1) Unicode Installation Easier

The Tyndale Unicode kit is a free and easy way to install Greek & Hebrew Unicodefor PC and Mac. Documents you write can be swapped between any computers.It includes keyboards for Greek, Hebrew and transliterration, and the Cardo font.

If you prefer another font (eg SBL or SIL fonts) you can simply substitute them,because Unicode fonts are interchangeable (so long as they contain the language!).

I've created new full instructions for WinXP & Vista but you don't really need them. It's easy. The Mac installation always always was easy, and the PC installation is now easier than that.

The keyboards work intuitively, though read the help for adding accents and pointing.When you've tried it once, you'll remember it easily, but there is a summary chart anyway.You should soon be touch-typing Hebrew and Greek. If you are already used to another layout,I've included instructions for changing the keyboard layout so that you can make it as you want.

Unicode knows where it is going. Greek goes left to right and Hebrew goes right to left.And when Hebrew flows over a line, it wraps properly, putting the later words on the next line.Word on the Mac can't do proper right-to-left, but there are solutions.

Another wonderful thing about a good Unicode font is that it knows where to put things.So a shewa centers itself under narrow and wide characters, and raises itself in a final Kaph.Though that only works for proper academic fonts like Cardo, SBL, SIL, TITUS and Code2000. (the Hebrew and Greek in Times New Roman and Arial doesn't do pointing properly).

So remember to change the font to Cardo when you start writing Hebrew or Greek. You could simply use Cardo for everything. It has Greek, Hebrew, Englishand all the symbols you need for transliteration, as well as rare Latin numbers etc.

All the normal Masoratic pointing and punctuation is included in the Tyndale kit,though some of the very rare non-standard markings are missing. If you really want them(perhaps you want to typeset the Leningrad Codex?) then you need Linguist Fonts._

2) Unicode Bibles and Unicode on your Bible software

No-one wants to type lots of Hebrew and Greek if it is just a quote from the Bible.

All the major Bible software now exports Greek & Hebrew in Unicode. Accordance, BibleWorks and Libronix all have settings to copy and paste Unicode.

Tyndale House provides Word documents of the Bible in Unicode.Copy them onto your computer and then copy and paste whatever you need.

There are also some online Bibles from which you can copy and paste Unicode text,the best of which is probably The Sword with parallel Greek, Hebrew & English.

Even easier is Michael Steed's InsertBible tool for Word on a PC. Just type the referenceand it writes the text in Greek, Hebrew plus English, in columns or paragraphs. It works in Word 2003 on a PC, and it is free.

3) Converting old fonts to Unicode

Converting a few quotes from the Bible is easy - see the previous section.And if you have a few extra bits, just type them. It won't take long. If you have lots to convert, use a font converter.

For Word on PCs, the converter from Galaxie works very well and is now free.It converts a whole document at once, and works with most common fonts(Bwgkl, Bwhebb, SPIonic, SPTiberian, Graeca/II, Hebraica/II, SuperGreek, SuperHebrew, Alexandria, Koine, Gideon, Mounce, SymbolGreekP, WinGreek, SGreek, SHebrew, Tecknia).It converts them first to Galaxie Greek or Hebrew, and then to Galaxie Unicode. You then do a Find+Replace for "Galaxie Unicode Greek" and replace with "Cardo"

For Macs, you can use the converters from Linguist which works with their fonts.Or you can load your Word documents into a PC and use the free Galaxie converter.

If your documents aren't in Word format, save them as Word format, convert them in Word, and save them in your favourite format again.

But don't bother with WordPerfect - I doubt this will ever be upgraded to read proper Unicode - sorry!.

4) Unicode TLG, with INSTANT lexicon lookup

Diogenes is the free software which makes TLG & PHI useable on your computer. If you think these are just irrelevant TLAs (three-letter-acronyms), read on.The TLG is the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae: a dataset of virtually all ancient Greek texts.The PHI collection includes the Duke databank of papyri - virtually everything published up to the 90's, plus many inscriptions. Together they make a NT scholars dreams come true.

They are on the web, but if you have the CDs, you can use them with DiogenesDiogenes is wonderful software for searching these texts on PC or Mac.It isn't fantastically fast at searching, but it has INSTANT lexical help for every word.

Even if you don't have the CDs, it is worth installing Diogenes for the lexicons. When you install it, you also install a full Liddel-Scott-Jones 9th ed Greek lexicon, and the Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary. Not abbreviated versions - the full versions!

When typing a word into Diogenes, you need Unicode, so install the Tyndale kit first.

5) Unicode Greek & Hebrew Bible on Palms and other PDAs

The clever guys at Olive Tree Bible Software have upgraded PDAs to Unicode.I didn't believe it till I saw it - a humble Palm with Unicode pointed Hebrew!Their Bible software was already superior by having so much grammatical tagging.Unicode is a free upgrade for existing customers.

And now they have searchable Qumran texts in Unicode Hebrew.

For speed I still prefer the free BiblePlus on the Palm, but for style and details, Olive Tree takes some beating.

6) Help, I've I've got an old computer!

Unicode really only works properly if you have Windows XP or Vista, or Mac OS X.Use the Tyndale Font Kit for legacy computers. It is almost as easy as Unicode,but it isn't future-proof.

You also need Word 2000 or higher on a PC, though any Mac version of Word has problems with Hebrew. If you can't afford Word (or if you have a Mac) use OpenOffice (NeoOffice on a Mac). This is free, and arguably just as good as Microsoft Office, but it doesn't have the advertising budget.

File this information away, because even if you have an old computer, you will soon need Unicode.

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