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You are here: Home / Conferences / Amsterdam 2013 / Presentation programme

Typefaces for Brazilian indigenous languages

When Wed 09 Oct 1425
Where Krasnapolsky A
What Non-Latin
Who Rafael Dietzsch

The main purpose of this presentation (based on research developed at the MA in Typeface Design, University of Reading, UK) is to show an analysis of the typographic characteristics of Brazilian indigenous languages, with a specific focus on the orthographies established with the use of the Latin script for these originally unwritten languages. Little has been published on the typographic attributes of the Brazilian indigenous languages—the only relevant work known on the subject is an article by the designer/researcher Kollontai Diniz from 2007. The analysis concentrates on the publications found during this research project: mostly educational primers and literary books in native languages. It was a challenge to find printed material showing whole text paragraphs, as the widespread development of publications typeset entirely in these languages is a relatively recent phenomenon. A remarkable feature in the orthographies of Brazilian languages is the heavy use of diacritics. Some of these orthographies employ accented letters that are unusual in most of the fonts for the Latin script, while others make use of glyphs that are not encoded in Unicode. The absence of these characters in most digital fonts results in many typographic inconsistencies, something that could be avoided with the use of appropriate character sets and OpenType features. Although there are some fonts that can render Brazilian languages correctly, there is no comprehensive solution that contemplates the specificities of the character sets required by all these languages, that are restricted not only to a limited number of typefaces, but also to limited advanced typographic features and style variants. By following the guidelines for the design of character sets optimised for native languages in this research, a good coverage may be ensured not only for Brazilian languages, but also for other Latin American indigenous groups. Acting in accordance with these directions could provide an opportunity for improvements in typeface design, as well as making a contribution for the minorities who do not gain attention from the commercial type foundries. Furthermore, while there are no typefaces made specifically for Brazilian languages, this research provides examples of appropriate typesetting practices with the typefaces available.

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