Recently in By Script Category

Nunavut Offical Languages Act and Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics


A script that may not be well-known to U.S. citizens in the Canadian Aboriginal Syllabic script which is a syllabary used to write certain indigenous languages including Iñuit languages spoken in the Nunavut territory of Canada.

This script is about to appear in many more documents and signs because the Nunavut's Official Languages Act is coming in to force to promote the Iñuit languages to be official languages alongside and English.

In addition to the languages of Nunavut, this script is used in Canada to write a number of indigenous languages including Ojibwe, Blackfoot, Cree and others. In contrast, most indigenous languages in the U.S. are written in the Latin alphabet with the notable exception of Cherokee.

I'm curious if indigenous communities in the U.S. would consider adopting this script to further differentiate themselves from the U.S. If that happens, the Nunavut law should ensure that proper Unicode support is available.


Good List of Arabic Encodings


The Arabic computing industry has worked with a number of encoding schemes since the 1960s. The History of Arabic on Computers page lists a number of historic encodings from NCR-64 to ASMO 708 and Windows 1256.

My favorite might be an early 7-bit set which replaced the lower case English letters with Arabic letters (but kept the capiral letters). As the article notes, this worked because "Some printers were not even capable of printing lower case English letters."

It's a good thing we've moved beyond that.


Pinyin Joe: Chinese Updated for Windows 7


I'm hoping to have Windows 7 here installed here in a few weeks, but there are some resources out there. One I would recommend for Chinese is Pinyin Joe. He's been around for a long time, but his Windows 7 page is quite up to date with information about fonts (including those with the Hong Kong characters (HKCS)), input options, Bopomof and non-hanzi scripts such as Yi, and Tibetan.

As a bonus, the site also maintains information for Windows Vista and XP as well as Ubunto Linux. Very helpful.

FYI - If you're a Mac person, you may want to check Yale's Chinese Mac. They're not quite up to 10.6 yet, but information from previous versions should get you caught up in no time.


Diacritcs Website on...Diacritic Typography Design


The Diacritics site ( has been around for a while, but hadn't hit my radar until recently. What it does is describe the typographic design of individual diacritics (accent marks).

There's especially good coverage of the Central European accented letters (e.g. z̧,ł,ǫ) with ogoneks, hacheks and others. Site owner Filip Blažek is Czech, so he definitely knows his Central European typography. The site includes links to some excellent articles on proper diacritic design.

Coverage also includes Turkish (Ỉ,ş), Vietnamese tone marks, Greek diacritics as well as the familiar Western European accents (ñ, é, ü) and some Sanskrit. Finally the site includes articles about diacritic use and design in individual languages. There may be gaps, but readers are invited to supply more information.

On a personal note, I would add that most English-based typographers probably underestimate the importance of making diacritics legible - hence they often look like afterthoughts. As a result, I am forever adding bold formatting to accented letters on Web pages, just to enhance legibility.

Postscript - May 17, 2010

Another recommended site is out of the Eesti Keele Instituut in Estonia. It's a more technical database interface, but has lots of useful information, particularly in terms of specific languages and encoding tables.


Some New LGC Fonts


I was checking the font repositories and found some new fonts that might be of interest to the linguistics/medieval/math crowd. But before that, I would like to define a new term LGC = Latin/Greek/Cyrillic font which refers to any font which includes the Latin, Latin-A, Cyrillic and Greek and a few math symbols. So many fonts include all three blocks, that's a handy acronym for me.

One caveat is that Basic LGC fonts don't necessarily include ALL LGC characters. For instance a font like Verdana may be missing IPA extensions, Cyrillic extensions and Greek extensions. The good news is that more fonts including the special characters are becoming available, and we're getting freeware large fonts to fill in typographical needs like small caps and narrow characters.

  • Arev Sans - A sans serif font with excellent LGC coverage including Latin/Greek/Cyrililc extensions, a good inventory of math symbols and other symbols/punctuation.
  • Linux Libertine - A family of OTF fonts with separate fonts for bold, italics, small caps. Good LGC coverage. It's also good to have a small caps font for Greek and Cyrillic, but it seems to be missing some of the phonetic characters.
  • Marin Font - This font is notable for being a little narrower than others which is a nice change and has glyphs for the Cherokee block and the Canadian Aboriginal Syllables. It also includes a separate Small Caps font.
  • Roman Cyrillic Std, BukyVede, KlimentStd from Kodeks German Medieval Slavicists Server - Bukyvede in particular includes a lot of historical Cyrillic characters and includes the Glagoltic characters. Kliment and Roman Cyrillic are LGC fonts which include other variations of the Glagoltic block. Latin and Greek are also included
  • Quivira - I discussed this a few entries ago, but to repeat: Big font. Lots of scripts including LGC, Coptic, Armenian, Hebrew, Georgian, Thai, Baybayin, Runic, Thai, Braille, some Indic...
  • Sophia Nubian - a new Coptic and Nubian script font from SIL with Keyman keyboard utility (Windows). A Mac Coptic Unicode Keyboard is also available.

I should mention that SIL is an excellent source of freeware fonts for undersupported scripts. Here's a list of the SIL fonts.

There are always more fonts out there so I recommend a periodic check of Gallery of Unicode Fonts and Alan Wood's Font list periodically. You never know what you might find.


HKSCS (Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set) Links


A while ago, I wrote about the complexity of specifying a language code for Cantonese, the form of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong. As many East Asian specialists know, Cantonese is so distinct from standard Mandarin Chinese (Beijing) that Western universities offer separate Cantonese language classes.

To further complicate the situation I also recently learned that there is also HKSCS or the "Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set" which is a block of Chinese hanzi characters used just on Hong Kong. I did decide to gather a few links for myself, in case the topic ever comes up. Here is what I found.

Some Basic Notes

1. Microsoft does incorporate HKSCS support into Windows in principle, but you may need to download the appropriate plugins, especially for XP and earlier versions of Windows. See the first few links above for details. Full support may also depend on implementation in other software packages.

2. Recent versions of Mac include Changjie and Janyie option in the Traditional Chinese input utilities. See the Yale Chinese Mac page above for details. Full support may also depend on implementation in other software packages.

3. HKSCS comes in a 2001 and a 2004 version. It is also tied to both Uniicode (UCS) and Big5 encoding (Traditional Chinese, Taiwan) even though the rest of China mostly uses Simplified Chinese.

4. Some recent discussions on the Unicode list (ca. Nov 2008) seemed to indicate that HKSCS was not as wide-spread as it could be, but it does appear that the major vendors are making initial steps.

While I am not an expert on the technical aspects of HKSCS, I do think it's interesting that there continues to be a "Hong Kong" issue even though it's been a part of China for over 10 years. Several centuries of a separate colonial heritage has allowed a Cantonese written standard to more fully emerge than it might otherwise have happened.


My Page of Rune Resources


I've created a quick Runes on the Web tutorial on this blog at



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I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage ( for a profile.


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