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NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems

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You are here: Type Design > Resources > Gentium
Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/Gentium_purpose

Gentium — Purpose

Victor Gaultney, 2003-09-17

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The Gentium Plus, Gentium Basic and Gentium Book Basic fonts have been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.











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‘Thank you so much for sharing this amazing work. I do love the vision you have for “written word empowering”. This is ethical science at its best.’

‘Our language restoration project thanks you.’


Gentium was birthed out of the union of two purposes — to fulfill academic requirements and to meet a global need.

It was designed by Victor Gaultney as part of the Master of Arts in Typeface Design program at the University of Reading. The assignment brief was simple: design two contrasting variants of a text typeface with a basic character set. What was needed was a problem to solve — a unifying purpose. This gave direction and focus, and was a final arbiter of design decisions. This wider purpose was found in a growing global need.

Literacy work in Ghana

Thousands of ethnic groups around the world use the Latin script for their languages. In order to adapt this foreign alphabet for their use, many groups have added new letters or diacritics. Unfortunately, computers offer little support for these 'extended' Latin alphabets. With the advent of Unicode, some of the technical barriers have been removed. Few typefaces, though, include these extra glyphs. Those that do, such as Arial Unicode, are not very suitable for the wide range of publishing needs and are not freely available.

The result is that millions of people are shut out from the publishing community. These ethnic groups — nations — need a typeface that supports all their special letters and is also suitable for broad text publishing. Ideally, such a typeface would be highly legible, reasonably compact, attractive, and freely available to all.

Gentium is an attempt to meet this need. The name is Latin for ‘belonging to the nations’. Our hope is that Gentium might be embraced by the nations and empower them to become fully-fledged members of the wider publishing community.


[  www.ethnologue.com ] To find out more about the over 6,700 languages in the world, visit the  Ethnologue. You can search the database or look at language maps for countries around the globe.

[  www.sil.org ] Visit the main  SIL International web site for information on SIL's work with minority language people. The purpose of SIL is to work with language communities worldwide to facilitate language-based development through research, translation, and literacy.


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