IPA input in Linux (Ubuntu Feisty Fawn)

Having finally gotten wifi working on Ubuntu on my MacBook I wanted to setup input methods for Japanese in Gnome. While doing so, I stumbled upon an IPA input method, which turned out to be quite sexy.

SCIM Setup for IPAFirst, make sure you’ve installed SCIM, additional tables for SCIM and of course, the SCIM GTK+2 module. Also, you might want a font that supports all of the Unicode IPA extension, so let’s throw Thryomanes in there too, since it does exactly that.

sudo apt-get install scim scim-tables-additional scim-gtk2-immodule ttf-thryomanes

(The packages can of course be installed with Synaptic or whatever you prefer, as long as you make sure to install ’scim’, ’scim-tables-additional’, ’scim-gtk2-immodule’ and ‘ttf-thryomanes’.)

Open “System > Preferences > SCIM Input Method Setup” and select “IMEngine > Global Setup”. Find “Other > IPA-X-SAMPA” and check it. Hit Apply or OK to save the changes and restart X (hit Ctrl-Alt-Backspace, which will log you out and restart X) for the changes to take effect.

Then (if you want easy access to the IPA input method) right-click on one of your desktop panels and select “Add to Panel…” from the menu. Find “Keyboard Indicator” and add it. Now you can switch between the input methods simply by clicking the keyboard indicator.

Using the SCIM IPA input methodNow, to actually use the super-cool input method, you just open any GTK+2 text editor (eg. “Applications > Accessories > Text Editor”, AbiWord or OpenOffice – actually, most applications that can take text input) and select the IPA method from the keyboard indicator (Other > IPA-X-SAMPA). Your keyboard layout will then change quite a bit and you’ll be able to write IPA easily. When you start typing, you might notice that sometimes a letter is highlighted and a little box is showing below it, that’s SCIM showing you the available IPA characters on that particular key – you can select them by using the up and down arrow keys and hitting space or enter. For instance, to write a schwa, type ‘@’ and hit space.

It’s worth noting, that not all IPA symbols are found exactly where you would expect, but it doesn’t take long to get used to and it’s so convenient – especially because it works in all Gnome applications, which includes your favorite web browser, you mail client etc.

9 meninger om “IPA input in Linux (Ubuntu Feisty Fawn)”

  1. Are you running Ubuntu natively on the Mac, or through an emulator? If it’s the former, I would be most interested to know how you got it set up to work.

  2. I seem to have installed the necessary packages (I entered the command lines on the terminal several times only for it to reassure me I had done it) but Other>IPA-X-SAMBA has not become something I can switch to by clicking on the keyboard indicator. It only displays USA. By clicking on it with the right button and selecting preferences I don’t have the option of activating Other>IPA-X-SAMBA either. I have activated it on SCIM Input method setup before, of course. Do you have any idea what might be going wrong?

  3. Regardless of what OS or applications you use, there are lots of different ways to enter IPA. Setting a different keyboard is only one option, and is not necessarily the best one. It all depends on the individual and how much and how often they use IPA and what they use it for.

    For a more comprehensive view of the problem and the various solutions I recommend http://ipa4linguists.pbwikic.com. It’s a comprehensive site that covers all OSs and all applications.

  4. This is great stuff. One question though: how can I express coarticulation, e.g. a nasalized wovel? I tried ~a and a~, but it does not make a diacritic out of ~. Is this possible at all? And can someone point me to an IPA layout for scim? I’ve been trying to google it, with no luck. Thanks

  5. There is no ttf-thryomanes in the Synaptic repository for softwares. Are there any alternatives or another repository by which one can get it?

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