Together with Monotype, Google engineered a universal typeface family that spans more than 800 languages, 100 writing systems and hundreds of thousands of characters. The name "Noto" is an abbreviation of “no more tofu”. Tofu, in this case, is a nickname for the blank boxes (▯) when a computer or website lacks font support for a specific character or letter. The amount of work, research and dedication is breathtaking, I am surprised that the team realized this mammoth project in only five years. Some of the languages in this typeface family had been never digitised before, they are niche languages which only existed in spoken form or are found mostly on monuments and manuscripts. For example Adlam, a writing system for the fulani language of Afrika, Monotype worked with the script’s original creators. Having direct access to the inventors of this writing system allowed the designers to incorporate stylistic choices and features that would reflect the creators’ original intentions, and bring the Fulani-speaking community the first chance to use the script digitally.

This cultural preservation is what I love the most about this project. Some of the typefaces and writing systems would probably be forgotten, so the font family serves as a kind of contemporary digital Tower of Babel. The fact that the whole project is open source, free to use and constantly expanding is a great example of how graphic design has the possibility to connect mankind, democratizes communication and preserve culture and tradition in our digital age.

More information:
Google Noto Font Website
Monotype Casestudy

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