2021 research programmes
The Missing scripts 2021
Unicode has become an essential character-encoding standard for exchanging texts electronically. Unicode 13 encompasses 150 different writing systems, and more than 139 000 characters: its ambition is to include all the scripts of humanity.
The decodeunicode.org website, started in 2005 by Johannes Bergerhausen, and its associated book « decodeunicode Schriftzeichen die der Welt » (ed. Hermann Schmidt) gives a fascinating insight into the richness and diversity of the scripts covered by Unicode.
And yet, more than a hundred writing systems are still missing from Unicode. Jenticha, Kulitan, Garay (Wolof), Ranjana (Lantsa), Mayan Hieroglyphs… minority scripts, sometimes ancient or undeciphered (but not necessarily complex in their design), which are still awaiting to be approved by the Unicode Consortium.
The aim of the Script Encoding Initiative (SEI) at the University of Berkeley is to provide the linguistic expertise required to submit new proposals for these writing systems to Unicode. Many of these scripts have never existed in a typographic form, and display some very interesting shapes: they represent a kind of unexplored territory for type designers.
The Missing Scripts project aims to support the SEI’s proposals to Unicode, through the design of typefaces for the missing entries. To achieve this, a multi-year research program is implemented, based on a classification by Johannes Bergerhausen, who established different levels of complexity for these scripts, based on the SEI database. The work will be conducted over a number of years, combining several levels of expertise: linguistics (SEI, Berkeley), type design (ANRT) and graphic design / mediation (decodeunicode, Hochschule Mainz).
The Missing Scripts programme will focus, from Octobe 2021 to March 2023, on the following scripts: PROTO-CUNEIFORM, LINEAR ELAMITE, DIVES AKURU, TOTO, HENTAIGANA, YEZIDI.
Desired profile for the application:
- Interest in Latin and non-Latin type design (specify which writing system)
- English spoken
- Good organisational skills
Visiting professors & experts:
Pr Johannes Bergerhausen, Hochschule Mainz (DE) / decodeunicode.org
Dr Deborah Anderson, Université de Berkeley (USA) / Script Encoding Initiative
The Unicode consortium
ANRT - Sigilla
Initiated in 2013 by the Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale (CESCM) of the University of Poitiers and supported by the Ecole pratique des hautes études (EPHE) since 2016, the SIGILLA program promotes the seal collections of French institutions (archives, museums, libraries, private collections).
It is based on a database, online since the beginning of 2015 and hosted by the TGIR HUMA-Num, which makes sigillographic data accessible to everyone, as they are collected: , prints, casts, drawings and photographs. The purpose of this tool is also to promote research on the seal and to favor the conservation of this now threatened but nevertheless universal and fundamental source of European culture, preserved in monumental quantities (it is estimated that several hundreds of thousands of fingerprints seals preserved in France and in several million those known throughout Europe).
The Sigilla program is led by a consortium bringing together EPHE, CESCM, the Centre de recherches archéologiques et historiques anciennes et médiévales (CRAHAM) of the University of Caen-Normandy, the Centre de recherche universitaire lorrain d’histoire (CRUHL) of the University of Lorraine, the ARCHE laboratory of the University of Strasbourg, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT) of the CNRS, the École nationale des Chartes (ENC), the Archives nationales and the Service interministériel des archives de France (SIAF).
The partnership with ANRT Nancy aims, from autumn 2021, to design a custom digital typographic tool integrated into the database, allowing the transcription of sigillographic inscriptions, which are very diverse. This tool will allow unprecedented research to date on the organization of legends and the evolution of epigraphy.