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Windows 8 & Windows 8.1 Ancient Script and Asian Fonts


Scholars interested in ancient scripts such as Glagoltic, Gothic and Old Hangul may be interested in the new fonts packaged with Windows 8, in particular the updated Segoe UI Symbol font.

Or you could wait for Windows 8.1 when support for Coptic and different scripts of South and Southeast Asia will be added.


JAWS 13 and Phonetic Symbols


A a linguist, I work with lots of exotic symbols, but only a small percentage of them are recognized by the standard U.S. of JAWS. If you work with phonetic symbols like /ə, ʃ,ʒ,ɰ/ you will need to tweak your pronunciation files.

I wrote about this in an earlier post on JAWS 6, but today I was able to document and implement, so I thought I would share the procedure.

The fix I am using will expand the symbol set within JAWS so that a character like /ə/ will be read as "schwa" (but not as its phonetic value of "uh") Ideally, it would be nice to have a word pronunciation engine so that phonetic pronunciation values are emulated, but let's take this one problem at a time.

SBL Files

JAWS includes a set of symbol or .sbl files which match punctuation and symbol characters with a "word" (e.g, ? = "question mark"). The key is to add the character and reading to your working files.

Luckily, there there is a phonetic symbol .sbl file from Robert Englebretson. There's also a math symbol .sbl file from Carroll Tech.

Add Characters to Symbol File

This procedure assumes that JAWS is using the Eloquence engine, in which case the key file to change is eloq.sbl. You will also need to have an Admin account to implement the changes.

Note: SBL files can be opened in any text editor such as Notepad.

  1. Open or download phonetic symbol .sbl file (New Window)
  2. Find the location of your eloq.sbl file. Mine was in the the following path on my C hard drive:
    C:\Users\All Users\Freedom Scientific\Jaws\13.0\Settings\enu\eloq.sbl
  3. Make a (second) copy of this file and rename as eloqOld.sbl. This is your backup in case something goes wrong.
  4. Make a third copy and rename it as eloqNew.sbl. This is a temporary file to edit since you may not be able to directly edit eloq.sbl.
  5. Open eloqNew.sbl in a text editor such as Notepad. This file contains pronunciation values for multiple languages. Scroll to the language you normally use (e.g. "[American English]"
  6. Scroll to the end of the symbol list for that language.
  7. Copy and paste the list of symbols from one of the other .sbl files immediately after the final line in the list. Each symbol will be in a single line and have the format U+0001=character name
    Note: Don't worry if the format does not match the rest of the symbol list.

  8. Repeat the last step for each language you want to support. You can translate character names as needed for each language. Save and close file.
  9. Exit JAWS if it is open.
  10. Delete eloq.sbl. You may be asked for an admin password at this point.
  11. Rename eloqNew.sbl as eloq.sbl.
  12. Restart JAWS and test on a page such as IPA Characters based on Letter A with Numeric Codes

Look Up Additional Codes

Each line in the SBL file has this format:

U+Codepoint=Character Name (no quotes)

For instance, if I wanted to expand the repertoire of currency symbols to include the new rupee symbol of India (₹), I would add the following to my .sbl file

U+20B9=Rupee symbol of India

A list of Unicode charts with code points is available at


New Features in Windows 7


The Windows 7 blog from Microsoft recently posted information on new "global" features for the next version of Windows (which would be Windows 7). Most of the focus in terms of fonts is on languages from South Asia (India in particular) and Southeast Asia (including Lao and Khmer fonts).

Microsoft is also announcing enhancements for displaying Arabic script characters and a new Font control panel (which now include a font preview). Microsoft is also releasing pilots of new localization features.

I suspect a lot of people either skipped Vista or returned to Windows XP, so it is worth mentioning that Vista had already included substantial additions in its font and locale repertoire including Ethiopic support and several Indian languages.

I've heard a few good things about Windows 7 through the grapevine, so I am crossing my fingers. I will be anxious to test it in the Penn State environment.


Unicode Hexadecimal Alt Code Entry in Microsoft Office


In Windows you can use the ALT key to enter numeric codes for decimal values of Unicode code points (e.g. ALT+065 = A). The limit is set to 255...unless you're in Microsoft Office, where you can input larger values (e.g. ALT+1046 = Cyrlilic Ж (Zhe)).

This is handy, but I found out through the grape vine (specifically blogger John D. Cook) there's a way to also enter the hexadecimal value of the Unicode point. For instance Ж is actually U+0416 in the Unicode spec where they are listed by hexadecimal values. Unfortunately, it's still restricted to Microsoft Office but it can be useful

It's a little tricky, so here's how it goes

  1. Open Microsoft Word or other Office app.
  2. Type a four digit hex code point (e.g. "0416").
  3. Next type Alt+X. The numeric code will be replaced by the correct character.

I wish this trick worked in every Windows app, but it's still useful if you are using Word and need a code and can only get access to a list of codes in hexadecimal format. At least you can bypass the hexadecimal to decimal conversion.


Pinyin Joe's Chinese Computing Help Desk for Vista/XP


Webmaster "Pinyin Joe" site that might clear up some of the mysteries of Chinese support in Windows (including Vista)

He goes through set up, the possible input utilities you can activate and even some font samples for the Microsoft Chinese fonts. There's good coverage of Windows XP as well.

FYI - Mac users should check Yale's Chinese Mac site.


Handout for CALICO 2009 Conference


Below is a link to handout and materials for a CALICO 2009 presentation on Unicode text entry for the Macintosh (with a supplemental Windows handout). Click the link below to download.

Download CALICO Unicode Handouts .zip


Windows U.S. International Keyboard...on a Mac


The Windows International keyboard is a Windows utility from Microsoft which allows users to enter a variety of accent codes with combinations of keys like '+e (for é) instead of memorizing a list of numeric ALT codes. If you are typing a lot of accented characters on a Windows machine, it's a godsend.

The interesting thing is that you can now download a Mac version of the Windows International keyboard. As a longtime Mac addict, I find it amusing because I am so used to the Apple Option keys. To me it's an interesting reduncancy.

But I can imagine that if you are a long-time Windows user, you may not want to re-learn a new set of Option codes. I can relate, because I've been struggling with my new phonetics keyboard which is very different from my old one. There's some serious retraining needed before I could use it.

What's really important is that there are utilities out there which allow users to customize their keyboards to just the way they want it. Vive la différance.


Foreign Language Spell Check in Office 2007


I was recently asked how you can spell-check in Spanish in Word (assuming that Word is running in an English environment). I knew the old way, but realized that it had probably changed in Word 2007 because of the new tab layout.

I looked for updated instructions, but I couldn't find one in a quick Google search. So I did some field research which I thought I would document it.

Office 2007 (Vista and WIndows XP)

  1. Highlight the non-English text.
  2. Click the Review tab on the Word toolbar,
  3. In the Proofing section on the left, select the globe icon (Set Language). A pop-window will open where you can select an appropriate language.
  4. Perform the spell check. The non-English text will be checked against the non-English dictionary.
Set Language tool in Proofing tools

NOTE: If no list appears or the spell-check does not work properly, check to see if the appropriate dictionaries have been installed. They are available on installation CD's for Microsoft Office

Other Versions of Word (Windows and Macintosh)

  1. Highlight the non-English text.
  2. Go to the Tools » Language » Set Language. A pop-window will open where you can select an appropriate language.
  3. Perform the spell check. The non-English text will be checked against the non-English dictionary.

NOTE: Dictionaries must be installed

FYI - This is mirrored at:</p>


Microsoft Word ∧ Logic: Inserting the Right Code Point


The Insert Symbol Tool in Word

As I said last entry, I'm working on a symbolic logic course and am learning new quirks for dealing with with Unicode logic symbols...and one of them apparently is the Microsoft Word Insert Symbol tool (this is found by going to Insert » Symbol in most versions of Word.

Like the Windows Character Map and Mac Character Palette, the Insert Symbol tool lets you insert single characters into a document so you can change "P implies Q" to the logical formulation P ⊃ Q or P → Q depending on your symbolism (and you can also switch between "P and Q," P & Q or P ∧ Q).

But...unlike the Windows Character Map/Mac Character Palette, the Insert Symbol tool can take you on a little detour out of standard Unicode and into the Microsoft Private Use Area block - or the block where vendors can define their own characters. For instance, when I tried to insert the character ∩ (union) into a document, I noticed that the Insert Symbol palette gave a code point of U+F0C7 instead of the expected U+2229, and yes the U+F0 code is a sign that you are in the Private Use Area.


First I should say that there is a rationale for this. You'll notice that the font in the graphic is set to "Symbol" which is an older pre-Unicode font which was used to insert lots of special mathematical symbols. The Private Use set-up undoubtedly prevents a lot older documents from breaking.

So What?

If all you're doing is using with Word, the Insert Symbol tool may still be working for you. But these days, more and more documents are actually destined for the Web or some other format...and not all tools recognize the Microsoft Private Use codes.

The way I first noticed that the logic symbols weren't standard Unicode was that some logic symbols did not "convert" well to HTML in Course Genie but mysteriously became things like "(". The ones I had inserted properly converted, but not the ones inserted with the Word Symbol tool. Ugh.

The use of proper Unicode versus an older format does have a real world impact.


To avoid the Private Use function in new Word documents just always use the WWindows Character Map and Mac Character Palette. On Windows, you may need to switch the font to Arial Unicode.

Or if you're especially insane, you can develop your own logic symbol keyboard utility.


Lucida Grande coming to Windows


The standard super Unicode font from Apple is Lucida Grande, but now a version will be available to Windows users if they download the Windows version of Safari 3.

Like the release of Microsoft's release Arial Unicode MS for Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) I think this is really good for the  Web community. A lot of Mac-oriented designers have gotten hooked on Lucida Grande, but they don't always realize that it's not available on Windows (or they think that Arial is a good substitute, when Arial Unicode may be more appropriate.

With both Arial Unicode and Lucida Grande available for both platforms, the headaches of developing cross-OS friendly sites should be reduced in the future. We may be able to (gasp) pick a Unicode font we like and assume it will be on almost all machines. Wow!!!

FYI - If your site needs to display a lot of quirky characters (like this one does), I would still recommend your CSS file allow for both Arial Unicode MS and Lucida least for the next few years.


About The Blog

I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage ( for a profile.


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