What does an ancient script have in common with emojis? Code.

Tulu-Tigalari is an ancient Indian language. Making it available online is no easy task.


August 27, 2021

Computers make a lot of things easier. But digitizing Tulu-Tigalari, a 2k-year-old Indian language and script used by just 1.8m people, is proving difficult.

Vaishnavi Murthy — a 37-year-old typeface designer who first saw the ancient script in her grandpa’s old notebooks — is trying to make it happen.

But it involves bringing the script into the Unicode standard…

… which is run by the nonprofit, Unicode Consortium. The group assigns every character of a script with a code — and likewise with emojis — so any computer can recognize them anywhere.

(Today, it costs $21k a year to be a Unicode voting member alongside folks like Google, UC Berkeley, Oman, and Emojipedia.)

Here’s where things get difficult

Trying to decide on the right format for every character of a diverse language ain’t easy. Especially with Tulu-Tigalari, where 2 characters can combine in 4 ways.

Take into account different dialects and modern changes, and as you can imagine, things get even trickier.

Do you have an ancient script you want digitized or an emoji you want made? Head over to the Unicode site to make it happen.

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