New fonts give Tibetans texting options

Updated: 2016-01-14 08:11

(Xinhua and China Daily)

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New fonts give Tibetans texting options

The Qomolangma Tibetan font displayed in an android system. CHINA DAILY

Apart from being artistic, the Qomolangma fonts also had to display a strong historical flavor while meeting the different needs of publishing houses.

The most eye-catching fonts are the Qomolangma-Dunhuang, which is based on Tibetan works collected in the Dunhuang Grottoes in Gansu province, the oldest Tibetan works on murals; the Qomolangma-Woodblock, which is based on the scriptures in the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa; the Qomolangma-Edict, which is based on ancient imperial edicts and historical documents; and the Qomolangma-Horyig, which is based on historical stamps and documents.

To Tashi Tsering's surprise, the Horyig font previously reserved for the seals of imperial families and prestigious living Buddhas was particularly welcomed by users. It allows a publishing house to test a vertical layout for the first time and gives Tibetans a chance to have their own seals. "Horyig fonts are not easy to recognize and are barely used now. Growing interest might revive the use of the dying font," he said.

When Tashi Tsering was studying at Tsinghua University in 1985, IBM had just began manufacturing personal computers.

"When I first saw Chinese characters pop up on the screen, I started to dream big. I wished one day Tibetan could also be typed and I thought I could be the one to stand up and give it a try," he said.

In the following years, he has studied computer technology at Tsinghua and Tibetan at Minzu University of China. After joining the research center upon graduation, he devoted himself fully to the development of information technology in the Tibetan language.

Over the past 30 years, he has participated in the development of Chinese and international computer coding standards for Tibetan, invented the Himalaya Tibetan font for Microsoft and compiled the Tibetan-Chinese-English Information Technology Dictionary.

Based on international encoding standards and OpenType technology, the New Qomolangma fonts adapt to the operation systems of Windows, Macintosh, Android and Linux, and are highly compatible with different computers and smartphones.

As previous fonts were developed according to self-defined coding standards, they would appear as gibberish on other operating systems, making Tibetan database construction very inefficient.

Lu, of the Tibetology Institute, said more and more technicians realized the only way Tibetans could embrace information technology was to follow internationally recognized standards.

"The spread of the Qomolangma fonts will definitely speed up the process," he said.