Computers & Writing Systems
Sophia Nubian is a sans serif, Unicode-compliant font based on the SIL Sophia (similar to Univers) typeface. Its primary purpose is to provide adequate representation for Nubian languages which use the Coptic Unicode character set. Since Nubian languages do not use casing, uppercase characters are not included in this font. A basic set of Latin glyphs is also provided.
The following font sample uses an Old Nubian text taken from John 20:9-12 (as deciphered by BROWNE, GERALD M (1989): Literary Texts in Old Nubian; in: Beiträge zur Sudanforschung Beiheft 5, Wien-Mödling).
Click on the graphic to see large size.
The Sophia Nubian fonts are designed to work on operating systems that provide support for TrueType fonts and for Unicode character encoding. This includes all 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows®, as well as recent versions of the Mac OS (version 9.0 and later), and also some implementations of Unix / Linux. (TrueType font support on Unix and Linux may depend upon the particular applications in use.)
The system requirements describe the minimum needed to display characters. For the fonts to work properly in applications, additional requirements must be met. This font uses OpenType and Graphite smart font technologies for placement of macrons over the characters. The minimum version of Uniscribe that will work is 1.420.2600.2180 (in order for OpenType support to work correctly).
The fonts are encoded according to Unicode, so your application must support Unicode text in order to access letters other than the standard alphabet. Most Windows applications provide basic Unicode support. You will, however, need some way of entering Unicode text into your document (a Keyman keyboard is provided as a separate download).
This font does not contain any uppercase characters in the Coptic range. This is because Nubian languages do not use "casing." If your word processor attempts to capitalize any Nubian characters, you may get square boxes. The solution to this problem is to turn off any "auto" rules for capitalization in your word processor.
The "u" vowel in Nubian is made up of two Unicode characters (U+2C9F U+2CA9). When next to each other, these characters are closer together than normal. In Microsoft Word, the characters may not always appear close enough together.
The Unicode codepoints for the macrons are: U+0304 (used for a "short" macron over a Nubian character) and U+0305 (used for the long macrons over "u"). A short macron over the "a" vowel thus has two codepoints (U+2C81 U+0304) and a long macron over the "u" vowel has four codepoints (U+2C9F U+0305 U+2CA9 U+0305).
These are some applications we've tested the font with and notes on how well they work. The font contains smart code for characters with macrons. It also contains code for the "u" (which is two Unicode codepoints) to be slightly closer together.
The "SIL Nubian" Keyman keyboard is now available on the Keyman website.
A Keyboard Mapping for Linux (KMFL) keyboard is provided (as a separate download) for typing in Nubian text on Linux.
The keyboard is also available on Android. However, since most mobile devices do not have a Coptic available, this may not be very helpful for now.
Go to the PlayStore and download "Keyman". The company is also "Keyman" There are other apps that show up, but the real Keyman is first on and has the little Keyman logo. Install that.
Then install the "Nobiin (SIL Nubian)" keyboard by clicking on the little world (to the left of the space key). Click on the "+" (top right). Scroll through available keyboards and find "Nobiin". There are two ways to use it. You can type in the Keyman app and then copy and paste somewhere else, or turn Keyman into the default keyboard and then you can use SIL Nubian in any app. (If nothing shows up, it likely means there is no font available.) To make Keyman the default keyboard app click on the 3 vertical dots (top right) and select "Get Started" Check "Set Keyman as default keyboard".
This font is designed to work with either of two advanced font technologies, Graphite or OpenType. To take advantage of the advanced typographic capabilities of this font, you must be using applications that provide an adequate level of support for Graphite or OpenType.
In particular, Nubian characters with a macron over them may not form properly if your computer does not have a new version of Uniscribe. For example, in Word 2000 the Nubian characters may not form properly. The solution to this is to upgrade your version of Uniscribe (usp10.dll). The minimum version of Uniscribe that will work is 1.420.2600.2180. In Word 2000 you would need to get an appropriate version of Uniscribe and place it in this folder: C:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedOffice10.
Nubian characters with a macron over them are not "pre-composed" characters (in Unicode). That means if you try to move a cursor arrow forward or backward over a character with a macron you will have to move the cursor two times to go over the macron and the base character. It also means that when you try to backspace over the character, you may end up having to backspace twice.
Sometimes characters may not display perfectly on the screen, but they should display better when printed. We have attempted to address the most severe "hinting" issues, but we are certain there will still be some display problems. On Windows machines, one way to clear up some of the display problems is to use. Right-click on your desktop, choose , select and under choose . In Microsoft Word and Firefox this gives a distinct improvement to the display of the font.
Supported character ranges
Supported character ranges
Download and Installation
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If you wish to receive announcements about updates to Sophia Nubian, or any of our SIL fonts, please go to this page to subscribe: SIL Font News subscription.
As these fonts and utilities are distributed at no cost, we are unable to provide a commercial level of personal technical support. We will, however, try to resolve problems that are reported to us.
We do hope that you will report problems so they can be addressed in future releases. Even if you are not having any specific problems, but have an idea on how this system could be improved, we want to hear your ideas and suggestions.
Please note that these fonts are intended for use by experienced computer users. Installing and using these fonts is not a trivial matter. The most effective technical support is usually provided by an experienced computer user who can personally sit down with you at your computer to troubleshoot the problem.
General troubleshooting information, including frequently asked questions, can be found in the documentation. Additional information is also available on the general Font FAQ page. If that fails to answer your question you can contact us at:
Email: Contact Form
2009-05-01 Updated Keyman package
2008-12-02 Uploaded Debian packages
2008-11-25 Release of font