Are You Seeing Squares Where There Should Be Cherokee Syllabary?When you visit websites that have the Cherokee syllabary on them, you may see squares or little question marks instead. Don’t worry! This simply means that you do not have a UNICODE compatible Cherokee font installed on your computer.The Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center released a font in 2000, and this font became one of the most widely used Cherokee fonts ever. It was used in the creation of many documents over the years. However, as technology advanced, the font, while very valuable, became outdated. In order to use our language in technology such as email, websites, and text messaging, the Cherokee language needed a compatible font. Fortunately, there are several.So How Do You Get Rid of These Squares?The squares represent areas of text that should be Cherokee. When you install a compatible font your computer and change your browser settings, the squares will disappear.Where Can You Download Cherokee Fonts?Depending on your operating system visit the Microsoft or Apple tabs to the left for free fonts to download for your operating system.A larger list of font downloads can be found on the ᏄᏍᏛ ᎠᏙᏪᎵᏍᎩ (Font) page.After You Download and Install a Compatible Font, Then What?After you install a compatible font on your computer, you need to go to your browser settings and enable the font. A set of instructions can be found here.
(NOTE: These instructions are for Internet Explorer. If you use other browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., the set up is very similar. Please refer to your specific browser’s documentation for font set up.)
Before Cherokee became part of the internationally recognized UNICODE system, typing in Cherokee depended on the font you were using. There were several Cherokee fonts available, but the Cherokee Nation font became the most used. Each font mapped each syllable to different keys on the keyboard. So, for example, using the old Cherokee Nation font, to type ᎣᏏᏲ (o-si-yo) you had to type: lowercase o, uppercase R, uppercase Y. This was because each Cherokee syllable was mapped to a specific key on the English keyboard as seen below:
Why is it different now?
Imagine this: If you lived in Japan and you wanted to type in Japanese on your computer, you would not open up a program and select a font called "Japanese" and start typing. That’s because in other countries, computers are in their language, and they have many fonts for their language. The idea of having only ONE FONT to use for an entire language is very limiting.
Cherokee is now recognized as an international language by the technology community. Because of this, our language has many different fonts, too. So instead of selecting a font called Cherokee from a dropdown menu, you have other options. And to type in Cherokee, you switch your computer’s keyboard layout, not the font.
What is a keyboard layout?
Keyboard layouts exist for all kinds of languages. Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, and many other languages are used on computers. Cherokee has its own special keyboard layouts, too. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a new physical keyboard. Instead, you install special pieces of software that let you switch between typing in English and Cherokee (or any other language that doesn’t use Latin characters).