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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > SEPTEMBER 2016 > Supporting characters

Supporting characters

The typographical challenges in publishing indigenous-language books

LAST YEAR, the University of Regina Press launched a series of story anthologies in a variety of indigenous languages, including Plains Cree, Woods Cree, Blackfoot, Saulteaux, and Lillooet. Obviously, none of these languages use the Roman alphabet – some have no alphabet at all, and others don’t even use a specific character set. As a result, the press is presenting these traditional and contemporary stories in three ways: as English translations; in standard Roman orthography, which uses the Roman alphabet to create words in other languages; and in syllabics: written characters that represent syllables. Most indigenous languages with their own character set can be recreated with Aboriginal, a free font developed by First Nations University. “The challenge for me is, I don’t speak these languages,” says URP art director Duncan Noel Campbell. “We work closely with scholars so they can tell us what we’re doing wrong or what we have to look out for.”

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Kevin Patterson meditates on war and terror in 'News From the Red Desert.' Changing spaces; 3 booksellers' survival strategies. Anosh Irani's new novel 'The Parcel' is of exceptional merit. It is both unsparing and a testament to the human spirit.