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Subject: Re: <no subject>
From: Gary Munch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 30 Oct 2002 07:18:35 -0500

text/plain (32 lines)

At 9:24 AM +0000 10/30/02, Burke, Edward wrote:

>>Hey, wait a minute! This has absolutely nothing to do with type.
>OK Xtian,
>It has now. Can anyone advise me on good reading material on native North
>American languages and associated type?

Cherokee is famous for having a home-grown syllabary, invented by a
chief and visually based on Transitional and Bodonioid Latin types;
most other languages use the Latin alphabet with diacritical
modifications. Inuit uses a syllabary (Ross Mills's (Tiro Typeworks)
Inuit is featured in Language Culture Type, btw). I did a set of
fonts for a western tribal school system which used a number of
diacritics and raised small characters to modify the base characters.
Pre-Columbian, writing in N.Am. was pictographic, and pre-literate --
that is, had not yet been developed into a writing system capable of
recording language. A comparison might be made to wall paintings in
Europe, Austrailia, Africa, Asia (miss anyone? :-).
Central America offers up the Mayan writing system, which is logo-
and phonographic, somewhat like Egyptian hieroglyphics in mechanism.

>I'm guessing here that most, if not
>all, native tribes used sign language rather than an alphabet per se, but
>are there founts around that one associates with North American Indian
>languages? I remember seeing a documentary on code-breaking techniques
>during World War 2 which showed that America used a native North American
>dialect as a secret code which remained totally unbroken throughout the War.

That would be Navajo, and recently featured in a movie =Windtalkers=.

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