Best web fonts for native languages

Jared Benson's picture

What are the best web fonts for use in native languages? Could we compile a list here?

hrant's picture

Do you mean North American Native? Even within that you might need to be more specific.

hhp

bemerx25's picture

I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by "native languages." Could you clarify?

Si_Daniels's picture

Perhaps Jared means "non-Latin"? The natives are restless!

hrant's picture

So English speakers all used something else as children?

hhp

quadibloc's picture

I don't find the original question ambiguous. Without further clarification, it can be taken to mean: what resources are available for supporting the languages of indigenous people on the Web.

In the case of North American Indians/People of the First Nations, there are the Inuktitut, Cree, and Cherokee syllabaries, and some additional Latin letters found in many wide-ranging Unicode fonts.

Again, some African languages use additional African letters; there's also the Vai syllabary.

One can go further afield, and, for example, note the existence of fonts for the Yi syllabary (a language related to Burmese, used in China).

HVB's picture

EVERYBODY is a native of one or more locales or groups. I'm a native New Yorker. I'm guessing that your intended use of the term fits Quadibloc's interpretation which attempts to disambi guate your erroneous and insensitive use of the term.

Herb (whose grandfather was a native Englishman, and whose children are native Californians - we all use the best latin web fonts for our native language, English)

5star's picture

your erroneous and insensitive use of the term.

HVB, give a guy a break ok? I'm sure that wasn't his intent. I think it's awesome to see how many fonts there are to rep languages of our first nation peoples, so kudos to Jared for starting this thread :)

n.

Jared Benson's picture

Sorry, in my original post I was quoting language I had heard elsewhere. To get us back on topic, I'm referring to non-Latin webfonts to support indigenous peoples of the world.

hrant's picture

OK, got it.

To make a list of such fonts, first make a list of the peoples?

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

Sorry, in my original post I was quoting language I had heard elsewhere. To get us back on topic, I'm referring to non-Latin webfonts to support indigenous peoples of the world.

Still don't know what you mean. As far as it goes, most of the "indigenous" people of the Americas (North & South) don't have a written form for their languages. When forced to come up with one, they tend to use the Latin alphabet.

I did a tri-lingual, three-voulme series (English, Spanish, and "Indigenous") a few years back.

http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/monwo2.html

The problems were not matters of typeface, they were organizational. (As the designer/typesetter, it became apparent that it was too late to work around certain editorial decisions that got in the way of clear presentation.)

But if you really mean only the characters/glyphs, all that's lacking is somebody willing to do the work. And perhaps getting Unicode to recognize the language. Print or pixel, not much difference.

Jared Benson's picture

Let's try this again. To get started, what are the best webfonts out there for use in:

+ Cyrillic
+ Arabic
+ Greek
+ Hebrew
+ Thai
+ Turkish
+ Gaelic
+ Japanese (Hiragana, Katakana)
+ Chinese (Big5, Guobiao, etc)
+ Korean
+ etc

Recognizing that some of these may have various offshoots and subsets, feel free to expand and extrapolate where character sets differ for regions in the world. The goal here is to provide a resource at Typophile for others who are looking for this sort of information.

And yes, "best" can be entirely subjective, so when recommending a webfont, share why you're proposing it.

quadibloc's picture

@Jared Benson:
To get started

You're starting off on the wrong foot. Except for Gaelic, these aren't indigenous or minority languages - these are languages of major national communities, and have hundreds of fonts.

Recommending the best web fonts for Japanese or Greek or Hebrew is not particularly simpler than recommending the best web fonts for English!

But the good news, though, is that this makes the question simple enough for you to answer yourself with a bit of Googling. Although, admittedly, a command of the languages in question would make it easier.

hrant's picture

Hmmm, I guess I misunderstood again. :-/

Jared, we just call those "languages that use a non-Latin script" or something.

hhp

quadibloc's picture

And if Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, and Japanese are "native" languages, I shudder to think of how he views Armenian!

Clue: Armenians do, in fact, wear clothes.

hrant's picture

Jared is a nice guy. It's a terminology thing. Language is dangerous.

hhp

altsan's picture

I assume he meant "native" as in "a font native to another language", meaning a font designed first and foremost for users of one particular language, whatever other languages it might support. (Given that the vast majority of fonts discussed here are "native" to Latin-1 languages, I suppose that implies his primary interest is in fonts which aren't.)

A font that's "native" to Farsi isn't the same as a font that's "native" to Arabic (the language), even though they're both classifiable as Arabic (the writing system) fonts. Alternatively, a font that's designed by a Russian speaker primarily for use in writing Cyrillic (but happens to contain Latin support as well) may be considered a "native" Russian font, whereas a Latin font designed by an English speaker that happens to contain Cyrillic support may not be.

Um, that make sense?

5star's picture

Language is dangerous.

nice.

n.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The BBC Arabic (and BCC Persian) website use Nassim from Rosetta Type Foundry. I find it hard to judge how well executed it is, since I’m not familiar with neither alphabet nor language, but I’m very impressed by Rosetta Type’s catalogue.

hrant's picture

Alex, frankly if stretching were an Olympic sport that would get the gold! :-)

Nassim is very nice.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Jared: By webfonts, do you mean fonts available for web or fonts that are optimized for web (hinting, outline adjustments, etc.)?

Ernestine by Nina Stössinger is available for web use from FontFont. Its Armenian counterpart Vem is designed by Hrant Papazian (the very hrant, yes). Can you say if the Armenian part is available for web use and/or hinted, Hrant? I know Ernestine is.

hrant's picture

Yes, "Vem" (which is actually fully integrated into the Pro cuts of Ernestine) is fully hinted for the screen -and made available in the web cuts- by the wizards at FSI.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Skolar Cyrillic is hand-hinted and available from Fontdeck.

riccard0's picture

PT Sans, PT Serif and PT Mono were conceived "to give possibility to the peoples of Russia to read and write on their native languages", and are available as webfonts: http://www.paratype.com/public/

Syndicate content Syndicate content