Microsoft Unveils New Typeface Hoping To Save Disappearing Culture And Language
By Alexa Heah, 28 Apr 2023
For brothers Ibrahima and Abdoulaye Barry, their life’s mission involves preserving the Pulaar language of the Fulani people in West Africa—a means of communication that has yet to be digitized and is at risk of disappearing for good.
To help preserve the culture of the community, Microsoft and creative agency McCann New York teamed up with the duo to add the language to the technology giant’s suite of products to give it, for the first time in its history, a written alphabet.
The resulting typeface, named ADLaM Display, comprises a digital version of the Pulaar alphabet, which was first painstakingly transcribed by the Barry brothers in 1989. Intriguingly, even though the language is spoken by over 40 million people, it had never been written down before then.
‘ADLaM Display’ stands for Alkule Dandayde Leñol Mulugol, which translates to “the alphabet that will prevent the culture, the people, from disappearing.” Microsoft furthered the duo’s original digitization efforts with the help of expert typeface designers so it could be standardized.
Shayne Millington, Co-Chief Creative Officer at McCann New York, told Campaign US that the creation of the typeface encapsulated how creativity, technology, and people can come together to produce “meaningful and enduring impact” around the world.
ADLaM Display, which first made its way into Unicode 9.0 in 2016, is now available to download, and will soon be deployed across all Microsoft 365 tools. The government of Mali has acknowledged the official alphabet and will incorporate its use in public schools.
“ADLaM has increased the chance of the language to survive, even in areas where the language has been dominated. We have our own alphabet! That’s a source of pride. It’s way beyond what we’ve ever imagined,” remarked Abdoulaye Barry.
More related news