Typesetting African languages


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Most African languages with a writing system use a modification of the Roman alphabet; the systems were often the invention of Christian missionaries, though some have been devised by government commissions since decolonisation.

The "authors" of these new writing systems usually aimed to make spellings logical and consistent by providing a written sign for each consonant or vowel sound in the language, and this often led to the adoption of newly- created letterforms that are easy to write by hand, but are not available in standard fonts for typesetting.

In writing up this report, I have aimed it at readers who do not know much about how typesetting is handled today in PC-based "desktop publishing" and word processing systems. I have aimed to explain the issues, and some solutions, in simple language and with a wealth of illustration.

Nice work but ...

This is a nice piece of work, but as the technology has moved significantly in the last decade (notably with Unicode), it is somewhat out of date. Also not all the info on the orthographies is accurate (according to what I have seen).

Some comments about it in two threads on A12n-collaboration:
* Taylor's "Typesetting..." Thu, 09 May 2002
* Re: 5 categories of African orthographies (Latin) Fri, 21 Dec 2007
* Re: 5 categories of African orthographies (Latin) Mon, 24 Dec 2007