Inuktitut syallabics in blogs?

I just got an email from a colleague at UCalgary, posing a really interesting question. She is doing some blogging and writing with some residents of Nunavut, and needs a way to represent the Inuktitut language online.

There is a reference to Inuktitut syallabics in Unicode, but I couldn’t find any implementation details so I’m wondering if anyone has any experience dealing with Inuktitut as digital text? Can typical blogging platforms deal with it? How do you handle text input? Do you need special fonts to display it?

Update: I checked out the Attavik website a bit, from a promising-sounding link on the wikipedia page. “publishing Inuktituk on the web” – and got this page that doesn’t appear to have much in the way of content to help.

Inuktituk in Safari

Looks promising (at least in Safari) – but Firefox/Flock show this, instead:

Inuktituk in Firefox/Flock

I’m sending a message via their “Contact Us” form to see if they can provide more implementation information.

Update: it also renders properly in Firefox 2 on Ubuntu 7.0.4

8 thoughts on “Inuktitut syallabics in blogs?”

  1. I hope it’s easier than dealing with Inupiat orthography, which has been a real pain. The characters don’t exist in any single Unicode set and then there is the problem of keyboard entry and fonts… our faculty have generally gone to live material digitized on a shared whiteboard + pdf docs (since they have the fonts and utilities) + the pidgin equivalent using latin characters that has (out of sheer necessity) evolved.

  2. D’Arcy,
    A couple of months ago I read a book, by Robert Bringhurst (a country man of yours), “The Elements of Typographic Style”. In it he writes about the work that has been done by type designers on Inuktitut languages. William Ross Mills is mentioned having done work on representing Uqammaq and Pigiarniq. So it seems that – yes special fonts are necessary. Maybe someone else knows better, but why not contact R.B. or W.R.M., I;m sure they would both be happy to assist.

    best of luck,


  3. Karl – I was updating the post just as you made this comment – turns out Safari on MacOSX appears to render Inuktituk as expected, with no additional fonts (unless some came pre-installed with MacOSX) but Firefox has issues… I’m contacting the folks at the Attavik website for more info.

  4. Ullukkut – Hello! You can also find some information on a website managed by the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth of Nunavut – ( Check under the Official Languages section. Hope this helps.

  5. The fonts that ship with Mac OS X are quite complete. In the specific case of Firefox on Mac OS X, the mangled text is because Firefox does not use modern text APIs on Mac OS X. This is also the reason why English text in Firefox is rendered subtlely different than most other modern Mac OS X text.

  6. @Qupanuaq: Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out to see what needs to be done.

    @King: Long time no see! 🙂 I figured it was something funky in Firefox/MacOSX text rendering. Firefox on Ubuntu works just fine.

  7. hold on–Safari supports inuktituk? out of the box? holy cow. i suppose someday i’m going to have to add a hundred or so inuktituk characters to our Guitar Hero fonts?

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