Comments on Diacritical Marks
John Hill is an "independent historian" living in the bush of tropical north Queensland, Australia and, therefore, far from research libraries. He has been working for many years on annotated translations of some of the key early Chinese texts on the development of the Silk Routes.

Click here for his books, Through the Jade Gate - China to Rome: Volumes I & II. [A Study of the Silk Routes 1st to 2nd Centuries CE], published in 2009/2015 and based on 30 years of research.

In 2003 he "published" a draft version of his first book on the net, "The Western Regions according to the Hou Han shu" (which is available at "Hou Han shu". You may download the files if you wish. His only request is that, if you quote from it, please check with him first to see if the section you are using has been revised.

The response was far greater than expected and very useful. The book has already undergone one revision but he is presently working on another major revision which he expects to make available this (northern) summer. He is also preparing the first draft of an annotated translation of the Wei lue. These are critical texts for the understanding of the early development of the Silk Routes and are of importance for people working in many fields, but they still contain a number of unresolved puzzles many of which need the attention of experts in a wide variety of disciplines. He is hoping that, with the help of the academic community on the internet, the annotated translations can be improved so that they become as reliable, up-to-date and useful as possible. He, therefore, welcomes any comments, criticisms or suggestions and can be contacted by emailing him at wynhill2 [at] bigpond.net.au. Of course, any help that is given will be properly credited.

Diacritical Marks 
Anyone working with a document that has to include numerous characters with diacritical marks must have run into some of the same problems I have. I need to be able to reproduce not only commonly available characters, but others used in quotes from books such as Bernhard Karlgren's Grammata Serica, Edwin Pulleyblank's Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin, quotes of romanized forms of Sanskrit and other Indian languages (which often have such difficult to find combinations as consonants with dots or other odd marks under them), and so on.  I have yet to find an adequate solution. Sometimes I can find a character I need in another font but they frequently look really strange when inserted in a text using Times New Roman or Arial and will not reproduce at all on someone else's computer unless they happen to also have that font installed.

What we need is a standard font with a hugely extended range of diacritics or some simple way of adding diacritics to, say, the Times New Roman font. If anyone has any suggestions would they please contact me at: wynhill2 [at] bigpond.net.au

In the meantime, here’s a summary of some comments I first made in August 2000 on combining characters with diacritical marks.

...an e, and an i, each with a small symbol underneath which looks like an arc - rather like a small round bracket - ( - turned 90 degrees to the right (so it looks like a rounded circumflex accent - but under the letters, not above them). There is also and upside down and reversed e with the same symbol above it (looking a bit like a small bracket - ) - turned 90 degrees to the right - like a shallow u, or a little bowl shaped mark, or a smile. 

I finally discovered today, by total accident, that one can combine characters with diacritical marks using the Windows 98 "character map" when I employ SIL Sanskrit fonts, and create the characters I need. I have tried this previously with several other fonts, but with no succcess. I just go into the "character map" and select the letter and diacritical mark I wish to join and then copy and insert them. 

I have tried to combine diacritical marks with letters in a number of fonts using the character map but, with exception of the fonts I mention, the diacritical marks end up to one side of the letter - not above or below it, as one would wish.