Re: Reality check - non-Unicode in Guinea-GTZ documents 2005

From: Don Osborn (
Date: Wed Aug 16 2006 - 10:00:32 CDT

  • Next message: Magda Danish \(Unicode\): "New translation posted: What Iis Unicode in Albanian"

    Hi Johannes, Yes, please do. I did forward my message to Jim Bennett (Uni-Köln), who was the author of the French original and as such was kept abreast of the translation and production work. Already got a positive and informative reply from him (I'll bcc him on this). But more connections the better.

    One interesting additional angle Dr. Bennett mentioned was the process of getting these documents printed locally in Conakry. It sounds like there might have been font intercomparibility problems (not surprisingly). The tragic thing about all this is the fallout - people who work with the languages on computers and in publishing companies etc. get the impression that anything in local languages is a huge undertaking with all kinds of headaches. And in the end you get stuff that compares unfavorably (even on the basic level of the look of the print) with anything in French or English.

    And it doesn't have to be that way. The extended Latin orthographies can be, well, as elegant as any other.

    A short digression... Guinea used to have an all ASCII (before the term) orthography that used some letter combinations and some French accented characters. It meant they could use typewriters to produce a lot of stuff, which they did. In the late 1980s they shifted to using what we now call extended Latin characters, which harmonized their orthographies with the ones used for related tongues in the rest of West Africa.

    One comment I heard indirectly from someone encountering the new orthography for the first time in '86 or '87, was that it was "élegant." And indeed, if you look at some of the bilingual "Classiques africains" published in Paris during the 1960s with the old technology, they look really nice. There's no excuse really for not doing at least as well with all the technology we have at our disposal now. But it does take some awareness raising, training, appropriate fonts, and then the necessary ground-level tech follow-up... (and perhaps a legacyfonticide).


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Johannes Bergerhausen
      To: Don Osborn
      Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 9:51 AM
      Subject: Re: Reality check - non-Unicode in Guinea-GTZ documents 2005

      Am 16.08.2006 um 14:29 schrieb Don Osborn:

        Looking at these three PDF documents produced by two Guinean agencies and GTZ in 2005:
        (backlink is )
        ... one notes that they have not used a Unicode font in producing them and evidently used more than one font, with nonstandard coding for extended characters. The result is irregular in appearance, but more importantly it's in an 8-bit coding. This of course encumbers any effort to search the documents with extended characters or to copy text from them to other documents.

      GTZ? Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit?

      I know these guys! My students produced the new corporate identity
      of GTZ in the last 12 months. I have a good contact to some people there,
      i can make a link if you want.

      Best regards,

      Johannes Bergerhausen

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Aug 16 2006 - 10:18:20 CDT