Guinea – Tech giant Microsoft has joined forces with Guinean brothers Ibrahima and Abdoulaye Barry to unveil ADLaM Display, a new font available to download for free. In the 1990s, the brothers, aged 14 and 10, invented ADLaM, an alphabet of 28 letters used to transcribe Pulaar – the oral language of the Fulani people spoken by over 40m people in West Africa. Aiming to preserve Fulani history and combat illiteracy among their peers, ADLaM stands for Alkule Dandayɗe Leñol Mulugol, or ‘the alphabet that protects the people from vanishing’.
After its first digitisation in the May 2019 Windows update, the font needed an update tailored to the Fulani people’s needs, including social media usage. Type experts from creative agency McCann New York designed ADLaM Display after taking inspiration from the spots, triangles, lozenges and chevron patterns found in traditional khasas (blankets), wodaabe (hats), and textiles of the Fulani culture. Accessing the font will empower locals who don't speak French, Arabic or English in West Africa and connect the Fulani diaspora spread worldwide with their roots.
In Digital Conservation, we previously looked at how conservationists are digitising historical and geological specimens and artefacts, including languages like Pulaar.
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