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UNESCO Supports Development of Armenian Unicode System

01-06-2004 (Paris)
To commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet, UNESCO, through its project Initiative B@bel, and the Matenadaran Institute in Yerevan have launched a project to enhance access to information in the digital environment for the Armenian language.
The project will develop a Unicode compatible font to overcome some current constraints in the use of the Armenian language in fields such as modern print and digital publishing.

Currently there are many Armenian fonts, which use non-standard encoding systems which can make information exchange between users, for example e-mail, unreliable. Many of the available fonts have only limited styles and do not offer the possibility of recreating the rich detailed design features of the languages such as can be seen in older traditional Armenian manuscripts. This poses certain challenges and limitations for publisher and contemporary digital graphic artists. The project will therefore seek to address such esthetic, legal and standardization issues. Particular attention will also be given to the training of local font designers and working with local institutions to raise awareness of good practices.

The Armenian alphabet was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots a scholarly monk in the Royal Court. The original alphabet contained 36 letters but two additional characters were later added to facilitate the writing of foreign words. The development of this writing system spurred a cultural a renaissance in Armenia and for this reason St. Mashtots is credited with starting Armenia's golden age of literature.

Today, some 3 million inhabitants of Armenia use the Armenian language. There is also a culturally aware Armenian diaspora of around 4 million persons many of whom still write and speak Armenian. It is expected that this initiative will facilitate online information exchanges and content creation in Armenian and contribute to the preservation and promotion of the Armenian culture in the digital environment.
Related themes/countries

      · Multilingualism in Cyberspace: News Archives 2004
      · Armenia: News Archives
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