New Web Tool for Typing Polytonic Greek (and more)

February 23, 2011

I have a long history of not fully grasping the intricacies of Greek fonts, dating back to the days when they had to be laboriously installed from a floppy disk.  I always learned just enough to get by, and absolutely nothing else.  Now, thanks to the joys of Unicode-supporting web browsers, Greek fonts are nearly effortless to view,  and several online library catalogs have begun supporting Unicode Greek. Typing in Greek into web forms is still a problem, though, unless you’ve memorized the Unicode charts for Greek (.pdf file), which, yeah, no.

UGA Classics’ visiting assistant professor Ben Wolkow has created an easy, web-based text editor for getting Greek (and other languages) out of your head and onto the screen.  He calls it ~da Grunk~ and it’s pretty simple:

[It] is an on-line Unicode text-editor, that allows you to easily type text in a number of languages.  When you are finished, you can cut-and-paste your efforts into a word processor, where you can gussy up that text with all sorts of fonts, colors, effects, and the like.  You can even paste the text into an e-mail, a spreadsheet, a presentation, a Facebook update, a Tweet — anything that can handle Unicode will cheerfully display your carefully crafted masterpiece with verve, if not gusto.

It’s easy to get started with ~da Grunk~ – just make sure the language you want is showing up highlighted in green, and type in the box.  There are some overall Instructions that cover the features (bonus points if you find the Violent Femmes reference in them) and a Language Tips section customized for the needs, like diacritics, breathings, and special characters, of each particular language. ~da Grunk~ supports Latin, Greek and a Euro Mode for the various squiggly marks in most European languages (French, Italian, Spanish, German, Scandinavian).  I’m testing it using Firefox on a Windows XP machine here at work, and it works well.  Poke around with it, report any bugs you find – and maybe this will become a handy tool for you.  I will note that for the full range of polytonic Greek characters to display you need to be using a font that includes them (if a character is not included in your chosen font, you see a box).  Dr. Wolkow recommended Cardo, New Athena Unicode, or Titus Cyberbit Basic – and I was able to download and install Cardo very easily, even on a locked-down work machine.

And then you can easily say χαίρετε to all your friends online!

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