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(June 2011) “The launch of the new ScriptSource website is an important advance and is part of SIL’s contributions to language development around the world,” says Chip Sanders, SIL International’s Director of Language Program Services. A project of SIL International’s Non-Roman Script Initiative, ScriptSource provides valuable information about the scripts and alphabets used to represent the world’s languages, as well as a platform for collaboration and development of software that supports these writing systems, such as fonts and input systems.
ScriptSource currently provides access to information on over 170 scripts used for the writing systems of thousands of languages. Both well-documented scripts and those with little or no documentation are represented. ScriptSource notes scripts in need of software development and invites others to add content to fill the knowledge gap.
Sanders further states, “ScriptSource not only allows us to better share our knowledge about the world’s languages, but provides a venue for others to also share their understanding of writing systems. Together with the Ethnologue, ScriptSource allows researchers, teachers, and language community members to quickly locate vital information about languages. ScriptSource is an invitation for every language to find its place in the digital world today.”
SIL has long recognized the vital place of computer implementation of writing systems in the on-going process of language development. Digital tools for writing systems are critical to the production of written materials, such as primers for literacy. In 2003, SIL introduced Graphite, software which enables the rendering of complex scripts. Graphite is just one of the more than sixty pieces of software and more than sixteen fonts and font families developed by SIL, most of which are freely available to the public for downloading. ScriptSource is another resource that reflects SIL’s deep commitment to produce language development tools for the world’s language communities.
With an easy to navigate interface, ScriptSource invites users to access a variety of content. In addition to technical linguistic descriptions, visitors to the site will also find historical and cultural information. New content is moderated by the ScriptSource editors.
ScriptSource uses the four-letter script identification codes recognized by the ISO 15924 Registration Authority. Each script entry includes a link to that script’s current Unicode status. Incorporation into The Unicode Standard ensures usability of a script across computer systems. As ScriptSource brings the world’s writing system developers together, it may well serve as a catalyst for the further addition of characters used by currently under-supported writing systems.