Judging by the correspondence I receive, many people still find it difficult to enter IPA symbols on their computers.
I have recently read favourable reports of a little keyboard programme called i2Speak, “an online Smart IPA Keyboard that lets you quickly type IPA phonetics without the need to memorize any symbol code.”
This is a clever and user-friendly free programme that you do not need to install on your computer: you just call up a web page. You use it to create your text, and then copy-and-paste the text to where you want to have it.
The web page places a virtual keyboard on your screen. You can switch between modes such as ‘Smart IPA’, ‘IPA English’, and ‘SAMPA English’, and also within each access special keyboards for ‘Vowels’, ‘Diphthongs’, ‘Non-pulmo[nic]’, ‘Supra[segmentals]’ and so on, some of them bearing labels with phonetic terminology (‘Plosive’, ‘Nasal’, ‘Trill’ etc.). You can select the font and the font size. When ready, you press ‘Copy’ to transfer the resulting character or text onto the clipboard.
I2speak, although admirable, is not without some strange quirks and faults.
• The characters ɕ and ʑ (alveolopalatal fricatives) can only be brought to the display panel both together, where you must then delete the one you don’t want.
• The tie bar in the labialvelar k͡p is in the wrong place, after the two alphabetic letters instead of straddling between them, giving kp͡.
• Under ‘ejectives’ you can enter p’ k’ s’ directly, but not t’; but there are two separate buttons for inserting just the ejective diacritic ’.
• Among the Diphthongs labelled “England” you will find ɒɪ and ɛə but not the ɔɪ and eə that most of us use. The diphthongs (sic) labelled ‘USA’ include ɛɪɚ, which I cannot offhand ever recall having seen used for mainstream AmE.
• You can choose among a number of different fonts, but for some reason Segoe UI is not one of them. Yet that is the font I prefer for general use, and the font in which this blog appears (providing you have it installed, which will be the case if you are using a recent version of Windows).
You cannot enter connected English phonetic text using the ‘smart IPA’ or the ‘IPA English’ keyboard without also using your mouse, because there is no setting in which a single keyboard setting contains both the phonetic characters that you need (such as ɒ ʊ ə θ ʒ ŋ) and the ordinary alphabetic characters (such as p t k f v s z). For comparison, with Mark Huckvale’s Unicode Phonetic Keyboard I can write a continuous phonetic text such as I published on Monday entirely from the physical alphanumeric keyboard, never needing to switch mode by using the mouse.
Neither i2Speak nor any other available keyboard device would enable you to enter a text with assorted non-IPA characters, such as we had in yesterday’s blog. For that I used good old MS Word, where for an unusual character you just enter the Unicode number, select it, and press Alt-x. I composed the whole of yesterday’s text in Word, then copied everything en bloc and pasted it into blogspot.