Tuesday, December 16, 2003
However, the one thing that doesn't quite irk me, but I'm not sure I like it either, is a question of book design. The language that sparks Seay's travels into Native American languages is Cherokee (specifically Overhill/Upper dialect), and the designers decided to set the title of the book in English, but using characters from the Cherokee syllabary that look kinda similar to the English characters -- ᎦᏋᎯᏒᏣᏂᎥᏂᏳ ᎸᏅᏒ ᏝᎾᎦᎿ ᏟᏐᎱᎩ (using Unicode; Code2000 and Aboriginal Serif Unicode support the Cherokee character range) or g7h9E/v/= km9 ^ng- CD!f (using the Cherokee font). The same trick is used for her name -- ᏋᏞᏐᏃᎪᏰᎬᎿᎻ ᎦᏋᎯᎩ (Unicode) or 7VDZqBz-N g7hf (Cherokee).
Although it can fairly easily be parsed as the English title, using Cherokee characters seems to slightly complicate things for a little stylistic effect. First off, for anyone who reads Cherokee (admittedly not a majority of the people who might encounter the book), it is going to look like nonsense: ga-quv-hi-sv-tsa-ni-v-tsa-yu lv-nv-sv tla-na-ga-hna tli-so-hu-gi for the title and quv-tle-so-no-go-ye-gv-hna-mi ga-quv-hi-gi for Seay's name. Second, the designers had to modify some of the characters to match what they wanted it to look like in "English." For example, Ꮈ (lv) is flipped on its axis to look more like an f, and Ꮒ (tsa) has its ascender squished in one instance to make it look more like a lowercase n. (In my rendering of the title above, I did not try to replicate either of these changes.) Also, the designers went out of their way to use "odder looking" characters: Ꭿ (hi) instead of Ꭺ (go), Ꮁ (hu) and Ꮏ (hna) instead of Ꭲ (i), Ᏻ (yu) instead of Ꮐ (nah) and so forth.
I've seen this done with Cyrillic characters on record albums, some book jackets (for example, GURPS Russia), magazine articles and other places, and I can't say it bothers me, but it also doesn't sit 100% right with me.
© 2003–2010 T. Carter Ross