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Understanding Charis SIL

Charis SIL is a font family based on the Unicode standard, a description of which you can find in my last blog post. In the Oxford Dictionary of the Internet, the term ‘font’ is defined as “[a] typographical term for a collection of alphabetic and other characters which are displayed in a certain style”. Fonts are similar within a font family but are displayed in different ways, such as bold or italic (Source: CSS fonts).

There are four fonts included in the Charis SIL font family at the moment: Charis SIL Regular, Charis SIL Bold, Charis SIL Italic, Charis SIL Bold Italic, and 3,600 glyphs are included. Glyphs are visual representations of a character/characters. For example, ß is a glyph representing the digraph of the two characters ‘ss’. The font family is designed with readability in mind as it is optimised at low resolutions and clear at high resolutions (Sources: Design – Charis SILCharacter Set Support- Charis SIL and Charis SIL). 

Charis SIL was developed by SIL Language Technology, a subset of the faith-based non-profit organisation SIL International. SIL Language Technology involves developing software, fonts and keyboards to help serve language communities and support sustainable language development (Source: About – Charis SIL). A central goal of Charis SIL is to provide a font family containing the glyphs needed for any Roman- or Cyrillic-based writing system (Source: Design – Charis SIL). 

As the Latin and Cyrillic scripts, i.e. writing systems, are used in thousands of languages, the Charis SIL font family provides fonts allowing for the writing of texts in many of the world’s languages. They state that the family also includes a number of symbols useful for linguistics and literacy work (Source: Charis SIL). This shows how related the font family and the fields of languages and linguistics are.

Published inCharacters and Character EncodingTools and Information Technologies

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