Amharic (Ethiopian) anybody?

New Here ,
Dec 09, 2007

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We are about to embark on typesetting our Bible (Koren) in number of bilingual versions (Hebrew - English, Hebrew - French, etc.). We are going to be setting our English, French, Spanish and Russian version using the new Arno Pro.

Our problem is Amharic. We have a text, but unfortunately our in-house knowledge of Amharic is zilch. Is there anybody out there that can recommend what high-quality (ie like Arno and Minion) Amharic fonts are available for purchase? I dont want to typeset the Bible in the Amharic equivalent of Times or Courier.
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New Here ,
Dec 10, 2007

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So far there is no such Ethiopic font available for purchase. Most available Ethiopic fonts are free and of more or less poor quality. Although you may want to order a custom design to match Arno Pro or Minion -I don't know if Adobe is interested in developing their own, as they did with Adobe Arabic...

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Dec 10, 2007

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> typeset the Bible in the Amharic equivalent of Times or Courier

Well, you know what? Go and download a few free Amharic fonts. You'll probably have an easier time if you search for Ge'ez fonts, and Ethiopic fonts, as well. Why is that? Well, over the last two thousand or so years, there have been around 70 different languages written in the Ge'ez script, which we script-jockeys tend to call "Ethiopic." The script is called Ge'ez because the language is also called Ge'ez; it's the liturgical language of more than one Ethiopian church.

Remember those free Ge'ez fonts you downloaded? Note the calligraphic style that is common to all of them. (Most? you might have found an ugly ultra-modern one.) That calligraphic style used in the design of those fonts is directly descended from the actual handwritten Ge'ez manuscripts. Which were, you know, holy texts. Like Bibles. I'm genuinely not trying to be smarmy here; I'm just pointing out that the assumptions you are making w/r/t typeface and Bible-appropriateness are not entirely accurate when considering Amharic text. Five hundred years separate the Gutenberg Bible and Courier; far more time separates early Ge'ez manuscripts and fonts like GF Zemen, but there's much less variance in the style of the face. GF Zemen is obviously closely related to ancient Ge'ez manuscripts in a way that Courier is obviously
i distantly
related to illuminated manuscripts from nine hundred years ago.

So, in essence, the plain-vanilla newsreader font for Ethiopic languages - their Courier - is actually an appropriate face for setting a Bible. Try to separate "the Amharic equivalent of Times or Courier" into two chunks: "The Ethiopic type style suitable to a holy book" and "the Ethiopic font that is of this style, and is a well-made font." I'm not telling you that you don't need a professional font; as with Latin-script fonts, the kerning/letterspacing/glyphset/etc. in the free fonts are not satisfactory. If you can't find a really good one, I can't recommend one; I think that Bitstream made one back in the day, and you might try looking at SIL. However, the truly reliable way to get really well-set Ethiopic type is to have someone who is competent in the language do the typesetting. Since you're doing a holy book, you probably want someone who's familiar with the tradition of religious books in Ethiopia, no?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Dec 10, 2007

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I can't recommend their fonts, really, but the comparison of ancient & contemporary Ge'ez faces over at Linguist's Software is not all bad. Sadly, the "ancient" example demonstrates correct spacing far, far better than it demonstrates correct justification, and the font itself looks like an unappealing example of this type style. (It's not just me; for what it's worth, my Amharic resources, fully half of whom are men of the cloth, agree with my analysis.)

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New Here ,
Dec 10, 2007

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I would love to get an Ethipian typesetter, but the job has to be done in Israel (it's a bilingual Bible, and one side is Hebrew) and although there are plenty of Ethiopians here in Israel, I haven't found a qualified typesetter (or for that matter any Ethiopian who knows what typesetting is).

Even if the best option is an Ethipian Times, I would prefer one with good spacing and kerning which is why I'm hoping that somewhere on this forum, there is somebody who can help point me in the right direction.

I really appreciate the comments you have made, can I learn from this, that GF Zemen might an appropriate choice?

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New Here ,
Nov 27, 2019

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No Ethiopians who know what typesetting is? Wow. I wonder how they published Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin's work in Ethiopia without anyone who knows what typesetting is?

 

Of course, I've never met an Israeli literate enough who knew who Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin was.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsegaye_Gabre-Medhin

 

 

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Dec 10, 2007

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I use GF Zemen Unicode almost exclusively, not because I think it's beautiful or well-made, but because a) it works with my main translator's typing software, and b) it works in Adobe products. [And c) I work for a nonprofit, and it's free.] These aren't good reasons for you to choose it, I think, but it's perfectly serviceable.

SIL's font is free and usually works in Adobe apps. I've also worked with Monotype's "Geez Book" before, which might suit your needs, but I don't know if it has a full selection of typesetting tools (a fullwidth space, enough variation in punctuation to typeset a bible, and so on). If you can live with the decidedly, ah,
i odd
restrictions on embedding in the license granted by Linguist Software, you might want to go with AmharicU. It certainly has all the punctuation you would need for an Amharic-language bible. (I suppose I mean "tanak" here, but I think I've forgotten how to spell it.)

However, while I'm glad that you're appreciative, all of this holy book talk is making me feel uncharacteristically out of my depth here - if you were working on forms for the state, I'd be on solid ground. If you don't mind, I'll post tomorrow afternoon, after I've spoken to my favorite Amharic translator/pastor, and let you know whether or not I was able to find a clear answer for you.

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New Here ,
Dec 11, 2007

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Raphael, I don't really get what you mean by 'Ethiopian Times', is that design-wise or usage-wise? My guess is you mean the latter.

The face Times itself is very refined and drawn and compared to the calligraphic form of the original Latin roman script model : the Antiqua that is its very base. Today, there is no existing digital equivalent of Times for the Ethiopic (or Ge'ez) script.

Typefaces commonly used in Ethiopian publications today are still very close to the ancient calligraphic model, nothing like Times. One can find some stylisation attempts, but they are widely unsuccessful (either over-standardised and rigid, or simply poorly drawn) because made by people not aware of typography, and even less of type design.
It would however be possible to typographically stylise, standardise, refine (etc.) a traditional calligraphic model to get a proper well design contemporary typeface.

Hope that helps.

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New Here ,
May 20, 2008

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Nyala, which is shipped with windows vista, is by far the best font out there.

Use this online tool to compose the text. The text can be used on any standard unicode application like work, excel, powerpoint, ...

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