2017 社会コミュニケーションプログラム Communication with Society Program      
(Grant Number)
(Project Title)
Developing and Promoting a Digital Font for Ryukyuan Languages
小川 晋史
Shinji Ogawa
Prefectural University of Kumamoto
(Grant Amount)
企画書・概要 (Abstract of Project Proposal)


    People whose mother tongue is Ryukyuan Language do not have a way to write in their language. In other words, they do not have an option or a right to write or express themselves in their language, and hence obviously they are linguistic minority in Japan. Under this situation we have developed a set of extended kana and alphabet in order to provide them with an accessible and uniform way to write in Ryukyuan Language. The result was published in 2015 as a book titled A Way to Write in Ryukyuan Languages: A Uniform Writing System for All the Ryukyuan Languages (Kuroshio Shuppan).
    The writing system we developed has been used in some dictionaries and other language materials. However, Ryukyuan Language has many linguistic sounds that are not present in the standard Japanese, and thus the writing system has to use some combinations of the standard kana and some additional symbols. This causes a difficulty in writing (or typing) in digital medias, which are major sources of written documents in the present days. Moreover, the writing system is not suitable for writing vertically, which is the typical way of writing in Japanese newspapers. This project develops a digital font for the writing system of Ryukyuan Language and prepares a webfont in order to overcome such a digital divide that Ryukyuan Language currently faces. Upon completion of the project the digital divide will be solved via a digital environment, namely the digital font and the webfont, that enables people to write and express themselves in Ryukyuan Language. Such a digital environment is expected to help the writing system utilized further and reach to more people in need.

実施報告書・概要 (Summary of Final Report)


The project's objective is twofold. One is to create a digital font for the unified writing system for the Ryukyuan languages. The other is to hold foundational activities that would accelerate the use of the digital font in the future.
The project has created Shima-Shotai series: Shima-Mincho (serif) and Shima-Gothic (sans-serif), each for horizontal and vertical writings. We have published a catalog of Shima-Shotai and held a couple of workshops where the participants learn how to use Shima-Shotai.

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