Non-standard 8-bit fonts still in use

Richard Wordingham richard.wordingham at
Sat Oct 17 03:20:13 CDT 2015

On Thu, 15 Oct 2015 20:22:08 -0400
Don Osborn <dzo at> wrote:

> I was surprised to learn of continued reference to and presumably use
> of 8-bit fonts modified two decades ago for the extended Latin
> alphabets of Malian languages, and wondered if anyone has similar
> observations in other countries. Or if there have been any recent
> studies of adoption of Unicode fonts in the place of local 8-bit
> fonts for extended Latin (or non-Latin) in local language computing.

Non-Unicode fonts have been particularly resilient in Indic scripts,
though I'm not sure what the current state of play is.  I'm not sure
that they are particularly '8-bit', but rather, they re-use the more
accessible codes.

Although these font schemes generally have the disadvantage that plain
text is not supported, in the Indic world they do have advantages over

1) What you type is what you get.  Indic rearrangement irritates a lot
of people.  Several Tai scripts have successfully resisted it, but
Indians have been suppressed by the influence of ISCII.

2) They avoid the dependence on a language-specific shaping engine.
Microsoft's USE may now eliminate this advantage.

3) Text is accessible for editing.  Windows provides no cursor
positioning within grapheme clusters, and the one response has been to
prevent editing of grapheme clusters.   As  a slight compensation, the
idea that backward deletion should delete the preceding encoded
character has a lot of implementation support.

I understand that in Cambodia, Unicode was established by government


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