Cree syllabic fonts
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Cree syllabic fonts:
development, compatibility and usage in the digital world*
Bill Jancewicz and Marie-Odile Junker
SIL International - Carleton University
Abstract
The goal of this paper is to discuss and provide an overview of our experience in helping
develop resources for typing in Cree syllabics in the area of information technology. Changes in
the digital world have allowed the generalization of Unicode, but the question of what are the
best tools—and whether they can be understood and accessed by the people who need them—
remains. Aboriginal languages, being minority languages, remain vulnerable to the dominance
of English in the domain of software development, hardware preferences for certain platforms,
and ever-changing technologies.
We report on successful and less successful initiatives undertaken to serve the needs of the nine
East Cree communities in Quebec: development and updates of typing tool packages, open
source vs. proprietary-commercial software, distribution and accessibility of those tools,
problems with obsolete practices, and training. We report on some resources made available via
the eastcree.org website, including training videos in Cree, English and French. Like
standardisation of orthography, standardisation of technology is essential. We demonstrate and
emphasise the benefits stemming from collaboration and sharing between all people working in
any capacity with a minority language.
*
We wish to thank all the Cree writers, speakers and linguists who have participated in our dialogue about Cree
fonts over the year, as well as the audience at the 40th Algonquian Conference, Minneapolis, MN October, 2008.
Special thanks to Timothy di Leo Browne for editorial comments, and to Delasie Torkornoo, for technical support.
Research for this paper was partially funded by a SSHRC grant (# 856-2004-1028).
1
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Introduction
Like other minority languages, but maybe even more so, Aboriginal languages are facing
challenges in encountering information technology (henceforth IT). Our experience in helping
develop resources for typing in Cree syllabics in the IT area (see also Jancewicz and Junker,
2002) has led us to explore the following questions:
•
How do changes in IT affect languages like Cree?
•
What are the best tools?
•
Can these tools be understood and accessed by the people who need them?
•
To what extend are minority languages vulnerable in IT?
We will start by discussing the recent history of character encodings and the effect it has had on
Cree users. We then examine current issues pertaining to display of fonts, keyboarding,
conversions, and distribution. Finally, we discuss some current collaborative IT applications
and practices involving the Cree language within the East Cree community of speakers.
From Legacy (8-bit) Encodings to Unicode
The history of the development of computer technology in the 1980s and 1990s provides the
reasons for some of the hurdles that needed to be overcome in order to provide efficient
usability of Cree syllabics on computers. When access to personal computers was first within
reach of Cree speakers, the physical limitations of the computer’s machine language forced font
designers to independently develop their own encoding systems. Within the 8-bit/1-byte
framework there is a theoretical limit of 256 characters. But because certain characters were
reserved by the operating systems and the application programs, users were left with a practical
limitation of fewer than 200 characters.
The standard “English” (so-called “Latin”) character set, with upper- and lower-case characters,
numerals, and a few symbols used up most of the character codes available in the first 128
characters that a standard keyboard could type. An additional set of “extended” (ANSI)
characters was made available when Microsoft Windows and the Macintosh Classic operating
systems were introduced, but unfortunately Microsoft and Apple did not agree upon which
2
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
characters would be represented in their “extended” character sets. To make matters worse,
Microsoft Windows and Macintosh also developed different approaches to the “code-page” (socalled “standard” re-coding of the extended character set to enable the use of some majority
languages).
By the mid-1990's the only workable solution for Cree language communities was to restrict the
choice of operating systems used by the community, that is, to require everyone to use either
Windows or Macintosh, but not both. Moreover, a computer technician or font designer had to
be retained to develop a "hacked" font that contained the characters that the language
community needed. Having made the operating system choice, all the users then had to be
trained in the use of this special local font. A computer technician or programmer was also
tasked with converting previously keyboarded documents into the accepted local standard.
Sharing documented across operating systems, or even across application programs, meant that
elaborate conversion procedures had to be followed in order to maintain the integrity of even
the simplest documents
In addition, many of the legacy (8-bit) fonts experienced interference problems with
AutoCorrect features of word processors. For example, features that automatically capitalized
letters after periods, corrected “two initial capitals”, or replaced straight quotes with “smart”
quotes often caused the wrong syllabic character to be placed in context. Users routinely
reported these problems without being able to identify their source. We have heard of people
who were using the strategy of leaving blank spaces for the misbehaving character in their
electronic document and filling it later by hand after printing. If such texts are retrieved from
electronic archives in the future, they will have missing characters for this odd reason. For
legacy fonts, all AutoCorrect features have to be disabled. These difficulties were overcome by
using Unicode.
The physical limitation of 256 characters for computers was overcome by the development of a
standard referred to as Unicode. By assigning each character to two bytes, the theoretical limit
was extended to 65,556 characters (256x256), and with the implementation of other strategies,
the Unicode system is capable of handling millions of different characters on computer
3
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
systems. This is by far enough to accommodate every character of every known human
language, modern and ancient.
The Unicode Consortium is an encoding committee that establishes agreed-upon character-tocode equivalencies. The Consortium publishes an exhaustive listing of all the characters used
by all scripts, and the computer code (that is, the unique number) used to represent a given
character.
For Canadian Syllabic script, a subset of Unicode characters referred to as Unified Canadian
Aboriginal Syllabics (UCAS) was compiled with input from native speaker and communitybased users to determine the characters required. All fonts developed that adhere to the Unicode
encoding standard are interchangeable over different operating systems and application
programs. Having access to multiple fonts using the same Unicode encoding enables users to
select different typefaces according to utility or aesthetics.
BJCree UNI is one particular Unicode-based typeface for Cree that was developed in
coordination and compliance with speakers and local communities. This means that the
development of the glyphs (typeface shapes) and metrics (character spacing, leading, and
kerning) was designed and optimized with the collaboration and approval of Cree-speaking
readers.1
While the introduction of Unicode has solved most of the previous compatibility problems,
some Cree writers still have old texts in several obsolete standards, or sitting on old computers,
which are not easily convertible. To remedy this situation we have endeavoured to maintain an
archive of old fonts and conversion tools.
Unicode in Operating Systems and Applications
The first operating systems that were compliant with the technical constraints of Unicode were
Windows 2000, followed by Windows XP and later versions of Windows (Vista, Windows 7,
etc.) and versions of Macintosh OS X beginning with version 10.2.
1
Some of the successful collaborative developments concerning fonts would not have been possible without the
financial support of the Cree Regional Authority, the SSHRC project of Dr. Julie Brittain at Memorial University,
as well as the partners of eastcree.org: SSHRC, Carleton University and Cree Programs (Cree School Board).
4
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Application programs to run on these platforms that were Unicode-compliant came later.
Currently, Microsoft Word (starting with Word 2000), OpenOffice 2.0, Nisus (for Mac),
InDesign, (replaces PageMaker) and Quark Xpress (providing Unicode support only recently in
versions 7-8 only) provide adequate Unicode support. Even though as this paper is written it is
rare to find application programs that do not support Unicode, caution must be exercised to
make certain of Unicode compliance when using early versions of software, or software that is
not widely used. For example, SIL database software “Shoebox” is not Unicode-compliant,
while the replacement version, “Toolbox”, is Unicode-compliant. Earlier versions of
Macromedia Flash (now Adobe) or Notepad were not working properly with Unicode despite
their claims. They now are Unicode-compliant, although special Unicode settings often have to
be chosen before saving documents.
A website for East Cree language resources, including an on-line dictionary, has been under
development since the year 2000; it has proven to be fertile ground for testing many
applications, This testing, along with reporting of errors to software designers, has led to better
compatibility over the years. The database-driven applications build with MySQL, PHP, and
Python for the eastcree.org project, have proven to work well with Unicode.
Unicode on the World-Wide-Web
In the early 2000s, Unicode compliance on Internet browsing software was hit-or-miss.
However, increasing levels of Unicode support have been implemented for most common
browsers, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Macintosh Safari, and Google
Chrome.
In a similar way, Web-based messaging and e-mail programs have also implemented Unicode
support in recent years. Still, it is prudent to test various applications before deploying syllabicscript on the World-Wide Web.
Display issues
Until recently, users still had to ensure that target computers actually had the desired font
installed when sharing documents between computers or across the Internet. However, newer
computer operating systems come with a Unicode-compliant syllabic font in a standard
5
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
installation. Tiro Typeworks designed Euphemia, a Unicode font with a full set of Roman and
Canadian Syllabic characters which newer operating systems will use by default (standard since
Macintosh OS X.2 and Vista). Users who run older versions of the operating systems (such as
Windows XP) can download and install Euphemia from the Tiro Typeworks website.
Another way to acquire a Unicode syllabic font is to use the ones distributed with keyboard
utilities:
BJCree
UNI
is
installed
automatically
with
the
keyboarding
resources
CreeKeysDesktop3, CreeKeysPro3 and McCree3. Any document written in syllabics that is
encoded in Unicode can be displayed in syllabics if a Unicode syllabic font is installed in the
computer.
While Unicode was developed in order to assign unique character codes to every glyph (every
character shape) in every language of the world, most Unicode fonts only contain a fraction of
the total number of characters worldwide. Fonts are developed this way for a practical reason-fonts that contain thousands of glyph-shapes are large computer files: Every font used in an
application or document uses up some computer resources of memory and processing speed.
Using any fonts with very large character inventories will significantly slow down or crash
computer systems. For this reason, fonts that are developed to be used with Cree are normally
limited to the standard (Roman, alphabetical) characters plus only those characters used in
Cree.
With this in mind, there are a number of other Unicode syllabic fonts available that can be used
to display Cree texts. Euphemia (already described above) contains the entire inventory of
Canadian Syllabics. BJCree UNI only contains those characters necessary for Eastern and
Western varieties of Cree, along with Naskapi, but does not contain those characters unique to
Dene or Inuktitut. The appendix of this paper contains a current listing of Unicode fonts that
have an adequate set of characters for varieties of Cree.
Syllabic characters can also be displayed on computers that do NOT have a syllabic font
installed, when the fonts are embedded by the software program used to author the document.
Fonts can be embedded in documents using Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat PDF, and
OpenOffice writer, which can save as PDF. This way the document itself contains the font
outlines, but the user need not have the actual font installed on their computer.
6
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
A new technology recently introduced is the embedding of fonts in websites, using software
such as The Dojo Toolkit, a modular open source JavaScript toolkit or library. This way the
web server contains the font outlines, but, again, the user need not have the actual font installed
on their computer.
Keyboarding issues
Simply having a font installed only allows the display of syllabics. In order to input syllabics,
that is, to use a keyboard to enter the syllabic characters desired, a separate software product
must be installed. This provides an interpreter so that the keys pressed call the syllabic
character to the screen. Operating System specific solutions include the following: for
Windows, Tavultesoft Keyman and Keyman Desktop (CreeKeys) and for Macintosh OS X.3,
the "International" dialog in System Preferences provides access to built-in and custom
keyboard layouts (.keylayout) HTML files (McCree). Since Macintosh OS X.6 the dialog in
System Preferences is referred to as "Language and Text" rather than "International".
Two different approaches to keyboarding syllabics have been employed: The most simple is to
replace individual keystrokes on the standard keyboard with the syllabic character desired. One
benefit of this approach is that the keyboard can be roughly laid out to approximate the syllabic
chart (top row for the “e-vowel” series, second row for the “i-vowel”, etc. (See the syllabic
chart in the appendix.) An important drawback is the necessity to replace the keytop markings
with marks corresponding to the syllabics keyboard layout, and also forcing the user to learn a
new layout.
The other approach to keyboarding is to match the roman spelling of the word in syllabics to
the keystrokes. That is, the typist presses the sequence of keys that correspond to the way the
word “sounds”, phonemically, using roman spelling, in Cree. The keyboard program takes care
of converting the roman spelling to syllabics. The benefit of this approach is that there is no
new keyboard to learn, the letters on the keys can stay the way they are, and new users can
learn to type very quickly. The drawback of course is that roughly twice as many keystrokes are
required to type any given word in syllabics.
7
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Using a keyboard re-mapping program like Tavultesoft Keyman or the Macintosh custom
keyboard layouts under the “International” menu provide the user with the option of choosing
whichever keyboarding style is preferred.
Tavultesoft Keyman is a commercial product that allows the creation of custom keyboards.
Earlier versions of the software (version 5.0) allowed a registered user to create keyboard
packages that could install multiple keyboards and fonts on end-users computers, without cost
to non-governmental and non-commercial users. Tavultesoft has released subsequent versions
(version 6.0 and above) that do have certain licensing restrictions on end-users. For example, to
all users of current versions of the software are required to purchase a licence from Tavultesoft.
The Windows package that has been distributed on the eastcree.org website, named
CreeKeysPro3, was based on Keyman version 5.0. So far, most Cree users have found it
unnecessary to upgrade from Keyman version 5.0. Google Chrome ( up to current version 9)
and Opera (up to current version 11)have full support on Windows 7, Vista and XP. However,
the current versions of certain browsers do not work with Keyman version 5.0. Specifically,
Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7, Vista, and XP supports Keyman 5.0 when you type in the
address bar and search boxes but does not work when you type into a field in a page on the
web. For Firefox (all Windows versions), Keyman removes the character just typed when
inserting multiple-keystroke syllabics. Tavultesoft has fixed this behaviour in newer versions of
Keyman.
In 2009, Tavultesoft has offered to update the CreeKeysPro3 package to correspond with the
current version of Keyman Desktop 7.1. This new package requires users to purchase a licence
from Tavultesoft, but addresses several Windows language and input-method compatibility
issues. This new package, called CreeKeysDesktop3, is available for general distribution on
Tavultesoft’s website, and includes technical support from Tavultesoft. See the Tavultesoft
website in the References section below for more information.
For the Macintosh, software from SIL International (Ukelele and KeyLayoutMaker--both free
of charge) allows users to create their own open-source keyboard layouts. These programs were
used to create the Cree keyboard layouts for Macintosh that correspond to the keyboards
available for Windows.
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PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
The Macintosh package distributed on the eastcree.org website, named McCree3, contains the
Unicode fonts and keyboard layouts.
Web-based keyboarding solutions are also available: a homemade Flash applet was developed
for the on-line dictionary on the eastcree.org website. This applet interprets the typed sequence
of Roman characters and converts them into East Cree syllabic characters.
Although the Canadian syllabic inventory is represented relatively consistently as an
orthography across the country, there are some important differences in usage that must be
taken into account. For example, communities on the western side of Hudson’s Bay tend to use
a different set of syllabic “finals” than communities on the eastern side use. Also, the placement
of diacritics (the so-called “w-dots”) is different depending on the speech community or dialect.
Normally, a local authority, such as a school board or education department has established
which syllabic standard is adhered to by a community or group of communities. It is not within
the scope of this paper to provide a full accounting of these differences, but it should be
understood that keyboard entry-methods are necessarily different, depending upon which
syllabic orthographic tradition a given region has adopted. The examples and resources in this
paper are mainly for “East Cree”, the communities of Cree speakers across northern Quebec.
For other varieties such as Woods Cree or Swampy Cree, the syllabic fonts will be adequate to
display the language on-screen. However, the East Cree keyboard entry methods will not place
diacritics properly nor output the appropriate syllabic “finals” for Western Cree.
It is recommended that users who are interested in keyboard entry methods for syllabics used in
languages other than East Cree refer to the website resources listed at the end of this paper.
Conversion issues
The standards and dominance of English make database encoding preferable in Roman
orthography. There is thus a need for efficient conversion tools for database activity, for
example, in the eastcree.org dictionary developments, we use conversions for keyboarding and
for search engines.
In addition, older fonts need to be converted to newer (Unicode) fonts: valuable pedagogical
material or texts are often encoded in an older font and it would take too long to retype.
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PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
The development of “simplified Roman” on text messaging or for other communicative
purposes is out of sync with “convertible” standard Roman orthography. There is an increasing
need for developing spelling checks and relaxed search tools that allow users to produce
consistent results even though they may make common spelling or orthographic errors while
keyboarding. (See the dictionary search for eastcree.org, described in Junker & Stewart, 2008)
The East Cree keyboarding packages CreeKeys and McCree contain Visual Basic (VBA)
encoding conversion programs that are accessible to average users. These programs make it
possible to convert texts keyboarded in the older 8-bit “legacy” fonts to be converted to
Unicode for archiving, standardization, and placement on the Internet. Unfortunately, these
programs currently only function on MS Word, because VBA is a proprietary program. At this
time, these VBA conversion programs do not work on open-source software such as
OpenOffice. See the training videos noted in the References section below for tutorials in how
to use these conversion programs.
Distribution issues
Distribution is also an issue. Often computer stores and companies do not know what is
available, or what is best for minority languages. A Cree speaker will usually not find advice or
help about Cree fonts from a retailer. One solution designed to meet this need was to develop a
resource page on www.eatcree.org with downloadable packages, training videos, and
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which address as many of the issues mentioned above.
These pages also contain links to font websites, where users may download all available and
free Unicode fonts that work for the East Cree language. However, it remains the user’s task to
identify their particular problem, find the solution, and then apply the solutions to their
problem.
Speakers have reported to us that they sometimes have encountered problems when using other
websites with obsolete information or material. In general, although well intended, such
initiatives that offer resources need to indicate dates of last updates. Any resource website is
faced with the problem of long-term maintenance: who is and who will be responsible for
regular updates?
10
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Collaborative IT Applications
Within the East Cree speakers’ community and especially in the wake of the collaborative
project eastcree.org2, several interesting IT collaborative applications have proven successful.
They all allow educators and language specialists to collaboratively produce resources and
material for supporting the transmission of the Cree language and culture, while working at a
distance, in communities that are sometimes thousands of kilometres apart. They all involve
web-based editing, and typing in Cree syllabics in browsers. They include:
•
Image and sound database for the encyclopaedic dictionary, developed in 2007, this
allows for uploading of images and sounds to the on-line Cree dictionary.
•
Editing for book production: This application is the most recent (developed on
eastcree.org in 2008 by Delasie Torkornoo): staff members at Cree programs are now
using an on-line editing tool (Google docs style) for creating and producing their school
books in Cree syllabics.
2
The eastcree.org project started in 2000 as an effort to develop language resources for the East Cree teachers and
speakers exploring how IT could help language documentation and preservation. The nine East Cree communities
in Northern Quebec have their own school board, the Cree School Board, whose Cree Programs department
became a partner to the project in 2001. The maintenance of the site is progressively being transferred to the
School Board, while the development of the resources continues to involve Cree language specialists and linguists.
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Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
•
Editing and maintenance of an on-line Educational Resources catalogue. This
application was the first one, developed in 2002, and served as a successful model for
later versions. It is widely used by educators in the Cree communities.
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PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
•
Editing and maintenance of an Oral stories database with an Elders’ biographies
database. Developed in 2003, this database now contains over 500 oral stories and is
still being populated (see Junker and Luchian (2007), for a discussion). It is also widely
used.
13
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
14
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world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Conclusion
Like standardisation of orthography, standardisation of technology is essential. Changes in the
digital world have allowed the widespread use of Unicode, but the question of what are the best
tools and whether they can be understood and accessed by the people who need them, remains.
As minority languages, Cree and other aboriginal languages remain vulnerable to the
dominance of English in the domain of software development, hardware preferences for certain
platforms, and ever-changing technologies. As is the case for the development of practical
orthographies, the appropriate and successful development of language-specific information
technology tends to occur at the grassroots level, and is informed by specialized (often noncommercial and non-mainstream) knowledge. Standardization of technology can only be
achieved if there is cooperation between all the stakeholders and a routine dialogue and
collaboration between developers and users. It is our hope that this paper will at least in part
continue this dialogue.
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world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
We recommend that anyone who endeavours to research, to work with or to use an Aboriginal
language should explore collaboration and the sharing of resources as a key to success, not just
to themselves, but also to the viability of the language as a whole.
Web Resources
East Cree fonts and keyboard packages:
http://www.eastcree.org/cree/en/resources/cree-fonts/
Eastern James Bay Cree talking syllabic chart:
http://www.eastcree.org/keyboard.html
Training videos in Cree, French, English:
http://www.eastcree.org/cree/en/resources/videos/
Tiro Typeworks: http://www.tiro.com/syllabics/resources/syllabic_resources.html.
Cree Unicode fonts:
http://www.eastcree.org/cree/en/resources/cree-fonts/
http://www.languagegeek.com/font/fontdownload.html#Full_Unicode
http://www.evertype.com/emono/
http://www.fonts2u.com/category.html?id=97
http://dejavu-fonts.org/
The Dojo Toolkit: http://www.sitepen.com/blog/2008/09/08/custom-fonts-with-dojoxgfx
The Unicode Consortium: http://unicode.org/
Tavultesoft Keyman Desktop: http://www.tavultesoft.com/
SIL International: http://scripts.sil.org/home
Currently Available Typefaces (Unicode Cree Syllabic Fonts)
BJCree UNI
The BJCree UNI font contains glyphs for East and West Cree and Naskapi, in both Bold and
Regular weights. As with any other fonts used in computing, texts produced using one Cree
Unicode font may be re-formatted using glyphs in other styles, found in other syllabic font
designs. The BJCree UNI font has been designed in consultation with readers of syllabics for
clarity, smooth reading with a robust accompanying bold weight face. BJCree UNI comes with
the Windows and Macintosh packages described in this paper.
(http://eastcree.org/en/resources.html).
An alternate version of BJCree UNI has been developed to address differing preferences for the
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“sh” series character. BJCree2 UNI is identical in every other way to BJCree UNI except in the
orientation of this series of characters.
Users will recognise BJCree2 UNI as more closely matching the style of the traditional Cree
religious literature, especially the Walton and Horden Bibles and Prayer Books.
LanguageGeek
One of the most important sources for Cree Unicode fonts is the LanguageGeek website by
Chris Harvey. Chris Harvey developed “Aboriginal Serif Unicode”, which has gone through
some changes and improvements. His current strategy is to serve logical regions of syllabic
users with fonts that contain subsets of the UCAS block, rather than one font that contains them
all. His work is very impressive and professional but some readers may find it difficult to read
because of somewhat close letter- and especially word-spacing.
(http://www.languagegeek.com/font/fontdownload.html - Full_Unicode) He has also begun to
develop some creative font designs that every user of Unicode syllabics should have installed in
their fonts folder for variety:
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world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Other Unicode Cree Syllabic Fonts
Ron Ogawa's “Ballymun RO” Unicode font is an interesting variation that uses an unorthodox
treatment of the glyph stems (varying stroke width, as with a quill pen. Note: no longer
available at this Multedata website: (http://www.multedata.ca/p20.htm). However, all versions
can still be downloaded at Fonts2u.com (Canadian Syllabics).
Another font that contains a huge number of glyphs is “Code2000”, used to test browser
compatibility with Unicode. But the glyph shapes (for Canadian Syllabics, anyway) tend to be
boxy, and not well-formed for legibility. It is a shareware font designed by James Kass: he asks
for a $5.00 fee for those who choose to use this font. (www.code2000.net) Still, we recommend
this site for many resources for people who are working with Unicode fonts on the web. It has
many tools for testing font display, and web technicians will find that it is worth checking out.
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PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
The Canadian Bible Society’s Jeff Klassen has produced CBSUCAS, (also available as an
OpenType font) another full set. It is better looking than some but the version that I have has
some proportional and spacing issues with the “dots”. In a recent (April 2008) communication
with Jeff Klassen, he notes that he has been unable to work on improvements to the font since
2006, and apologizes that the link to the source may be broken, but still plans to fix this when
he gets the chance. (http://confluence.ubs-icap.org/display/~jklassen/Home)
The DejaVu fonts project was started by Štěpán Roh. Over time, it has absorbed several other
projects that also existed to extend the Bitstream Vera typefaces. The DejaVu syllabic fonts are
modifications of the Bitstream Vera fonts designed to extend this original for greater coverage
of Unicode. This is a collaborative Open Source project. As of this writing (Feb 2009) some of
the fonts (DejaVu Sans, DejaVu Sans Condensed) now include coverage for Canadian
Syllabics. The fonts are free as in ‘freedom’, and may thus freely be embedded. DejaVu fonts
can be obtained from the DejaVu project on SourceForge. (http://dejavu-fonts.org/)
Michael Everson created Everson Mono (former name: Everson Mono Unicode). He says on
his website: “Everson Mono is a simple, elegant, monowidth font.”
(http://www.evertype.com/emono/)
19
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
The Tiro Typeworks website notes that they have developed a new Unicode syllabic font
Canadian Syllabics & Latin Scripts named “Euphemia”: We are very pleased that a professional
type foundry has been involved in the design of a Canadian syllabic script. This is another fine
font that should be on every syllabics users system:
“...Euphemia covers most languages which use the Canadian Syllabic script including various
Cree orthographies, Inuktitut and the historical Carrier script. Three fonts are available with
free end-user licenses in TrueType-OpenType format.” (Quoted Feb 2009, for Euphemia
version 2.66. http://www.tiro.com/syllabics/resources/syllabic_resources.html)
Euphemia now comes as part of the Macintosh Operating system since Mac OS X.4, and it is
also part of the Windows Vista operating system. This font is also freely downloadable from
the Tiro Typeworks website (for end-users only, see the License Agreement on their site)
(http://www.tiro.com/)
20
PREPUBLICATION DRAFT (revised March 2011). To appear as:
Jancewicz, Bill, & Junker, Marie-Odile. Cree syllabic fonts: development, compatibility and usage in the digital
world. In Valentine, Randolph (ed.) Papers of the 40th Algonquian Conference.
Eastern James Bay Cree Syllabic Chart
References
Jancewicz, Bill and Marie-Odile Junker. 2002. Cree on the Internet: How to Integrate Syllabics
with Information Technology and the Web. Presented at the 34th Algonquian
Conference, Queens University. http://www.eastcree.org/pdf/FAQ.pdf
Junker, Marie-Odile and Radu Luchian. 2007. Developing web databases for Aboriginal
language preservation. Literary and Linguistic Computing 22(2), June 2007:187- 206.
Junker, Marie-Odile and Terry Stewart. 2008. Building Search Engines for Algonquian
Languages. In Karl S. Hele and Regna Darnell (eds). Papers of the 39th Algonquian
Conference. London: University of Western Ontario Press: 378-411.
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