UNESCO Supports Development of Armenian Unicode System

UNESCO Supports Development of Armenian Unicode System

noticias.info (press release), Spain
June 2 2004

To commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the
Armenian alphabet, UNESCO, through its project Initiative [email protected],
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