Inuktitut Computing

The UQAILAUT Project

Inuktitut Fonts

Unicode fonts     [Legacy fonts]

Unicode is a standard that assigns a unique numerical 16-bit code to each character of all the known languages of the world and to every sign (punctuation, mathematical, phonetic, etc.) that humans use in their writing. Several Unicode fonts containing all those characters and signs have been created. But often, Unicode fonts contain the codes of a subset of the Unicode table to answer the needs of a given language. For example, the greek letter  is assigned the Unicode code 926. Any Unicode font that contains this code will display it as that greek letter and nothing else (although its shape is likely to have small differences from one font to another, of course).

There exist several Unicode fonts that contain the Canadian Inuktitut Syllabary. One of them, Pigiarniq, has become very popular. All, except Code2000 and Everson Mono which are shareware, are free to download and use.

If you do not have installed on your computer the specific Unicode font for Inuktitut that is specified in an Internet page (let's say Pigiarniq), but you have other Unicode fonts for Inuktitut and your browser is set to use any of them for the Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics (let's say Uqammaq), you will still be able to see the characters correctly (in Uqammaq), even though their shapes are not the ones intended by the page's author (in Pigiarniq).

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12 point 24 point Info/
Aboriginal Sans
Aboriginal Serif

Ballymun RO



Euphemia UCAS
Everson Mono Unicode





Pigiarniq Heavy
Pigiarniq Light
Rotinohnsonni Sans

Uqammaq Heavy
Uqammaq Light
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Legacy fonts     [Unicode fonts]

Characters are assigned to numerical codes represented by bytes. Originally, characters were represented by 1 byte with only the 7 lowest bits, allowing for 128 'positions'. The 7-bit table was defined through the ASCII standard: its 1-byte 7-bit codes were assigned to hold for the digits from 0 to 9, the punctuation marks and the letters used in the English language. Only the last 96 positions were used, the first 32 being reserved for controls such as new line, tab, etc. Because those 96 characters are not sufficient to write the characters used by the other European languages using latin-based characters, the ASCII table was extended by using the 8th bit of the byte, and the additional 128 codes were assigned to those characters through another standard. Unfortunately, that was not yet sufficient to represent the characters of languages using other alphabets like Greek, Russian, Inuktitut, etc., but the 8-bit byte was all there was at the time to represent a character (this was before the advent of Unicode). So the standards were put aside and the codes were reassigned to those 'foreign' characters. For example, the code 88 assigned by the ASCII standard to the latin letter 'X' is reassigned to the greek character  in the font SIL Greek.

The following Inuktitut fonts are such fonts where the codes have been reassigned to Inuktitut syllabic characters. Unfortunately, they do not all assign the same codes to the characters, so in order to see correctly a page coded with a certain font, you absolutely must have that font installed on your computer.  Using any other font will likely result in garbled incomprehensible text.

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  1. Tunngavik is always associated with ProSyl. The codes up to 127 (0x7F) are assigned the same characters, with exactly the same appearance. But Tunngavik is an 8-bit font and has a number of codes in the range 128 to 255 (0x80 to 0xFF) assigned to the long-vowel syllabic characters which are taken care of by non-advancing 'dot' codes in 7-bit ProSyl. Note that Tunngavik does have those non-advancing dot codes too, so if one stays with codes under 128, those two fonts are interchangeable. Tunngavik is not very much used.
  2. Old Syl has the basic (short-vowel) syllabic characters assigned to the same codes as ProSyl, but has only 2 dot codes, and the punctuation signs are assigned to different codes.
  3. AiPaiNunavik is quite different than the other legacy fonts in its code assignments.  It is also the only one to contain the syllabic characters of the 'ai' series.  

The original contents of this site was developed by Benoît Farley at the National Research Council of Canada.