Non-standard 8-bit fonts still in use

Doug Ewell doug at
Sun May 1 14:32:19 CDT 2016

Don Osborn wrote:

> Substituting characters such that the key for an otherwise unused
> character yields a hooked letter or a tone-marked vowel may be seen as
> sufficient for their purposes and easier than switching to Unicode and
> sorting out a new keyboard system.

The myth is that switching to Unicode requires switching to a new and 
{ unfamiliar, complex, hard to adopt } keyboard layout. Even when the 
"new" part is true, the rest need not be.

Assuming they are currently using a Windows U.S. English layout, someone 
could easily provide them with a layout that either:

1. puts the non-ASCII letters on the keys corresponding to the ASCII 
symbols currently repurposed by their font (for example, pressing q 
yields ɛ), or

2. puts them on AltGr combinations (for example, pressing AltGr+e yields 

In the first case, there would be no apparent change for the user, but 
the mapping from q to ɛ would be moved out of the font and into the 
input process.

The second case would allow access to both English and (e.g.) Bambara 
characters, but would require a change for the user typing Bambara, so 
would probably meet with more resistance.

Tools could be easily written to convert existing text like "tqgq" to 
the real spelling, so compatibility with the hacked fonts would become 
less of a concern.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO ���� 

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