FW: Technology leads to cool fonts in Native language

From: Don Osborn (dzo@bisharat.net)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2006 - 14:08:41 CDT

  • Next message: Titus Nemeth: "Re: FW: Technology leads to cool fonts in Native language"

    FYI (fwd from the ILAT list)... DZO

    Technology leads to cool fonts in Native language Part of effort to preserve tribes' culture and heritage

    Native American Times 9/14/2006

    Members of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes now have their native language at their fingertips. Literally.

    With the help of various small grants and the donated time and effort of an area resident, the tribes now have new keyboards and an easily installed font to help in the creation of documents written in Salish and Kootenai.

    "When modern technology first arrived here, it started taking our language and culture away from us," said Tony Incashola, director of the Salish Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee. "But now we're learning how to take that same technology and turn it around, using it to teach our children our language and culture."

    The new fonts work on both PC and Mac computer platforms. Word processing programs can also spell check documents written in both tribal languages. The new fonts also allow for use of teaching programs like crossword puzzles and software that creates teacher user plans.

    Jim Ereaux, a former employee at Salish Kootenai College, employed his technical expertise to develop the two new fonts.

    For many years the tribes' cultural committee have used a variety of computer fonts and applications for language development, publications and historical documentation. The primary fonts in use were developed at Salish Kootenai College about 15 years ago, but tribal officials say it was only a partial solution because of limited technology to support multi-language development. Members of the culture committee requested that new resources be developed that fully support the languages, are usable on both Windows and Macintosh OS X, work with various publishing and language applications, and support the use of customized keyboards.

    Work began on the project in late 2005 in close coordination with the Culture Committees, several linguists, and the broader typographic community on the Internet.

    In April 2006 a small grant was written through Salish Kootenai College to both Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative and the Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation to support the creation of customized keyboards for both languages. Both organizations donated nearly $6,000 to the project. The grant also provides support to purchase desktop publishing applications and distribute the customized keyboards to area schools on the reservation.

    The new fonts utilize two recent technologies called "Unicode" and "OpenType." Unicode is a worldwide standard for representing glyphs, such as the letter 'a' or an accent symbol, for all modern languages and supports over one million possible characters. Many languages require several glyphs to compose one character, which the OpenType standard manages. Both of these technologies allow documents created with the fonts to be exchanged between PC Compatible and Macintosh OS X computers. Not all computer operating systems or applications will support these new technologies. The minimum requirements are Windows XP and higher on the PC and OS 10.4 on the Macintosh.

    The tribes are based in the Montana town of Pablo.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Sep 15 2006 - 14:19:48 CDT