Preserving Esarn alphabets


Above: The letter for elephant (chang in Thai).

Esarn alphabets - TNA, October 8, 2004

From Ancient Isaan alphabets to go high-tech: A lecturer at a college in Thailand's Northeast has invented a computer font for two ancient Isaan alphabets which are in danger of dying out.
The new high-tech inventions mark a huge change in the life of the 'Tai Noi' and 'Dharm' alphabets...
It was not until the 19th century, when government legislation insisted on the use of the Thai alphabet, that the two alphabets slipped into disuse...

The fonts can be downloaded for free here.


[Very few articles from 2004 about Thailand are still online. Here is the full text.] Ancient Isaan alphabets to go high-tech

UBON RATCHATHANI, Oct 6 (TNA) - A lecturer at a college in Thailand's Northeast has invented a computer font for two ancient Isaan alphabets which are in danger of dying out.

The new high-tech inventions mark a huge change in the life of the 'Tai Noi' and 'Dharm' alphabets.

According to Asst. Prof. Sanit Phokaphan from the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Rajabhat University's Ubon Ratchathani campus, the Tai Noi alphabet was originally written on palm leaves as a mean of recording events relating to merit-making ceremonies and other local traditions, as well as local folk tales and medical formulas.

The 'Dharm' alphabet, meanwhile, was regarded as a high-ranking mean of recording issues relating to Buddhism.

It was not until the 19th century, when government legislation insisted on the use of the Thai alphabet, that the two alphabets slipped into disuse.

Asst. Prof. Sanit, who invented the computer fonts, says that the alphabets are now only taught at the Rajabhat University, and among Buddhist monks wanting to read ancient manuscripts.

The lecturer hopes that his inventions will lead to a resurgence of interest in the ancient scripts, and prevent their extinction.

The fonts will also make it easier for researchers to learn about national historical events written on palm leaves.

The fonts can be downloaded for free at the Rjabhat University's website.
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