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Add Revised Accented Character Support for Na-Dené (Athabaskan–Eyak–Tlingit) Languages #75

andrewkeithstrauss opened this issue Sep 22, 2015 · 6 comments


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Add Revised Accented Character Support for Na-Dené (Athabaskan–Eyak–Tlingit) Languages


Na-Dené Characters.png


The Na-Dené (Athabaskan–Eyak–Tlingit) family of languages are found across western North America, from Alaska to México. There are a variety of contemporary transcription methods for these languages: the most popular in the United States requires the acute and ogonek accents. Diné Bizaad (Navajo) – the most popular Na-Dené language in use – relies on the acute/ogonek transcription method for typeset text.

Accents are used predominantly on vowels, and are a form of guidance on suitable pronunciation. The acute accent indicates a raised tone, and the ogonek indicates adding a nasal tone. Therefore:

• a = normal tone, oral only
• a-acute = higher tone, oral only
• a-ogonek = normal tone, oral & nasal
• a-acute-ogonek = normal tone, oral & nasal

These accents are used on all five standard vowels (a, e, i, o & u). Some Na-Dené use additional accented consonant characters, such as ‘n-acute’ in Diné Bizaad.

Na-Dené languages always use a centre-positioned ogonek accent on characters, rather than the right-aligned position used in Europe by languages like Polish. Because few typefaces include support for centre-positioned ogonek accents, it has become customary to typeset Na-Dené using right-aligned ogonek accents as a last resort.

The Source family of typefaces already includes partial support for Na-Dené accented characters, but could be improved by adding centre-positioned ogonek accent support for the following characters:

• A-ogonek
• A-acute-ogonek
• E-ogonek
• E-acute-ogonek
• I-ogonek
• I-acute-ogonek
• O-ogonek
• O-acute-ogonek
• U-ogonek
• U-acute-ogonek
• a-ogonek
• a-acute-ogonek
• e-ogonek
• e-acute-ogonek
• i-ogonek
• i-acute-ogonek
• o-ogonek
• o-acute-ogonek
• u-ogonek
• u-acute-ogonek

Many thanks

na-dene characters

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Related issue at Noto Fonts

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@andrewkeithstrauss do you have a full list of Athabaskan languages that use this orthography? i’ve plugged Diné (Navajo) into the fonts, but it would be simple to enable the other languages if you can tell me what others to include. thanks.

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Checked in Roman version 2.034 and Italic version 1.084. These are now present.

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Fixed in version 2.040.

@pauldhunt pauldhunt reopened this Feb 2, 2021
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Based on the centered ogonek design as presented above in black, Adobe has commissioned a review from Victor Pascual, a Diné designer and he provided the following feedback:

So, I did some testing and a general review with some colleagues of mine. We didn't find anything missing with the exception of a small detail on the letter "ą", both lower case and for the capitalized version. See the attached PDF for reference. The hook at the bottom of the "ą" should extend off the stem and could be smaller, similar to what's happening with the "į". Otherwise, we felt that the font looked great!

After receiving this, I looked into my copy of Wall & Morgan’s Navajo-English Dictionary and found that the ogonek on ą in the font used (Linotype Metro Black) does indeed place the diacritic to the right of the letter and not on the bowl as shown in black in the graphic at the head of this thread. This has me wondering how important this distinction is in general. Currently I’m waiting on further review from Animikii to see what they have to say and I may see if I can find other examples to if there is a clear preference for ogonek placement or what is typically done.

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Additional feedback from Daniel S. Wall:

I used to work at Diné College, but it's been a very long time. I believe they put it on the bottom right, but I could be missing details. Also, NW speakers may use different orthography.

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