Type design for new Asia-Pacific scripts

I am looking for collaborators to help design fonts for nine rare scripts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. What makes these scripts unique is the fact that they were all invented in the twentieth century by isolated linguistic minorities and successfully transmitted to succeeding generations. A few of these are no longer used, while others are thriving.

Southeast Asia and Pacific script invention map

Script invention in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Click to enlarge

The map above displays the locations of new scripts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and their approximate dates of invention. These scripts are known either through my own fieldwork, the archival record, or informal reports. Those enclosed within dotted lines are not verified, or are attested from only one source.

Font developers are urgently needed for four of these scripts to ensure that they can be used in the digital realm, either by speakers of the languages they were designed for, or by scholars studying these writing systems and their traditional literature. The scripts are listed below in order of design priority.

Ottomaung alphabetic script, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Ottomaung1This is considered a top priority because the script is endangered and font-development has strong community support. Ottomaung is a straightforward cipher alphabet but with three ‘registers’, perhaps analogous to Roman, bold and italic. View the project page here.

Eskaya alphasyllabic script, Philippines

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 2.16.03 PMThere is strong community demand for an Eskaya font, but the size and complexity of the script has proven an obstacle. So far a team of designers in Australia and the Philippines have succeeded in creating a ‘demonstration set’ of 220 letters. A further 240 will be needed before an Eskaya typeface can be used effectively. View the project page here.

Mama script, Easter Island

8239720853_6c77317687_oVery little is known of the Mama script of Easter Island and only two artefacts have survived from the 1920s when the script was first developed. These artefacts will need to be traced from photographs, then it will be necessary to do a frequency analysis of stroke sequences to isolate likely graphemes.

 

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