In the summer of 2011, Roy Boney Jr. and Joseph Erb from the Language Technology Office of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, spoke at a type conference about their efforts to integrate the Cherokee language into current communications technology. They finished with an earnest request to type designers to create Cherokee typefaces, since new digital types are required to build the resources they need to preserve their language and culture.
I heeded the call and began by choosing a Latin design already in progress as the proportional basis for the 85 glyphs of the Cherokee syllabary. The first phase of development involved reading most of the available research into the historical aspects of the syllabary, an analysis of the existing types, and making form studies from manuscript images provided by the Cherokee Nation and the James Mooney manuscript collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
Since there were no useable multi-weight Cherokee type families at the time of their presentation, my initial strategy was to create a family of upright fonts in various weights. But when the light and bold were nearing completion, I asked what they thought of my creating an italic – not just an oblique, but a real cursive italic inspired by Cherokee handwriting. With their encouragement, I researched and culled the forms I needed from almost 180 years of manuscripts. The result – the first Cherokee cursive italic typeface design – was given a very positive evaluation by the Language Technology Office.
In recent years, the Cherokee Nation has also specified a lowercase for the syllabary and I designed these glyphs for Phoreus in 2015, making Phoreus Cherokee (v.2) the first full typeface family which contains the new Cherokee lowercase.
Despite the popularity of its Latin complement amongst non-Cherokee users, Phoreus Cherokee was produced primarily for use in the Cherokee language. Its distinct and uncomplicated forms are particularly suited to very young readers – a primary target audience in language preservation.
The name Phoreus is the ancient Greek word for bearer or carrier and could refer to type (and the Cherokee syllabary) as a vehicle of language and visual culture.
- Small Caps
- All Small Caps
CFF PostScript OpenType
(see Technical Support for compatibility)
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