font tools

How do you (programmatically) move truetype points around?

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In the thread http://typophile.com/node/103643, a question was raised that can be reformulated as follows: "how can one build the latin small letter alpha?", which is uni0251 (in the IPA extensions). Even with a serif font, its lower part appears to be that of a d and its upper part that of a q. My question here is how to do that programmatically.