Parlez-vous Macintosh? Tips on getting the right accents
Author: Janet Spinas-Cunningham
Date: May, 1989
Keywords: DTP desktop publishing hints writing keyboard word processing
Text: One of the best features of the Macintosh is the capability built into the Mac's System file to add diacritical marks from languages other than English. Having spent a great many years preparing materials in Spanish, I was a little concerned about switching from a typewriter with an international keyboard to a computer. I had visions of once again writing in by hand all the diacritics and punctuation marks that I needed. But the Macintosh is an international computer! Without additional software, the basic English-language Mac can produce materials in foreign languages. You can type on your Mac in French, Spanish, Italian and German. To produce the grave and acute accents, the circumflex, the umlaut and the tilde, you use the option key with another character and follow it with the letter you want modified. Let's use ''*C*mo est* usted?'' as an example. To get *, press the option-shift keys and type /; type uppercase C; then depress the option key, type e (nothing appears on the screen) and then type o; continue as you normally do. To type the *, depress the option key, type e, then type a. That's all there is to it. By the way, there are all kinds of interesting things hidden in the fonts. Even different sizes of the same font produce different results. Use your Key Caps DA and look around. The following table shows you how to type the diacritics built into the system. Keyboard diacritics To produce this: Type this: Then type this: * * * * * Option-` letter * * * * * Option-e letter * * * * * Option-i letter * * * * * Option-u letter * * * Option-n letter * Option-c * Option-a * Option-o * Option-s * Option-shift-/ * Option-1 * Option-\ * Option-shift -\ Using this method has certain disadvantages. It's slower than the international keyboard, and you have to insert the diacritic before you type the letter needing it. There is no non-erasing backspace or dead key. It's contrary to the way we put in accents when we're writing. There are solutions. You can change the font you are using or you can purchase a special set of fonts. Linguists' Software of South Hamilton, Mass., has developed special fonts for a number of languages. All of the fonts come in a variety of sizes. All of the overstrikes have built-in, non-deleting backspacing so they need no special keyboard command. You just type the keystroke for that symbol and it automatically goes over the previous letter. The fonts are not copy protected and can be installed with the Font DA Mover and selected directly from the font menu. You can easily move from the special font to any other font for multilingual word processing. You can see each font on the screen and print what you see. The fonts also allow you to select any of the style variations: plain, italics, bold, underline, outline and shadow. I've been using its SuperFrench German Spanish for a little over two years and have had absolutely no problem with it. The font comes in four sizes -- 10, 12, 20 and 24 point -- and includes the complete character sets of over 70 other languages including Basque, Catalonian, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Finnish, Hawaiian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish,Polish, Swedish, Turkish, several American Indian languages and several African languages. In addition to this font, Linguists' Software offers several more. MacTransliterator has a set of letters sufficient for 75 languages and includes 50 diacritical marks that can be used in combination with any letter. MacPhonetics is a font containing the International Phonetic Alphabet. Tech is a font containing characters useful in mathematics, engineering and science. SuperGreek includes all the special marks used in classical scholarship; SuperHebrew includes both a classical and a modern font, as well as a right-to-left desk accessory; MacCyrillic covers Russian, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian; MacKorean comes in three styles, Seoul, Pusan and Inchon; MacKana includes hirigana, katakana and 70 of the most commonly used kanji. Another company, Ecological Linguistics of Washington, D.C., has developed integrated sets of fonts, string-comparison resources, and keyboard desk accessories for dozens of languages. Each package comes installed in a System file. For more information about these fonts, write or call Linguists' Software, 106R Highland St., South Hamilton, Mass. 01982 (617)468-3037 or Ecological Linguistics, P.O. Box 15156, Washington, D.C. 20003-0156 (202)546-5862. The second solution is changing the font. If you're creative and/or courageous, youcan change the font yourself. You can change one letter or symbol, add characters to a font or create an entirely new font. The program I've used is FONTastic from Altsys. With this program you can easily edit the font to change the look of the letters, to change the symbols and to add characters or symbols. Since there are quite a few combinations involving the Option key that haven't been defined, there is ample room to add what you want. Another program that will let you do the same thing is ResEdit. Most will agree it is not as user friendly as FONTastic. ''Mac Insight'' by Lon Poole contains a lot of good information and step by step directions for using ResEdit. In either case, you find the font you want to change and edit the character as if it were in FatBits. Fonts are fun. Diacritics are accessible. Whether you use the Mac's system file, buy a special font or create your own font depends on your needs. I've used them all. My preference is SuperFrench German Spanish. It does what I want to do as fast as I want to do it. For $49.95 it's a bargain.
Copyright © may, 1989 by Janet Spinas-Cunningham