The Ethiopic Manuscript Unicode Font Initiative is a non-profit workgroup of scholars and font designers who would like to see a common solution to a problem felt by many manuscript scholars: the encoding and display of special characters found in Ethiopic manuscripts. The EMUFI project draws inspiration from, and indeed is modelled after, the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative (MUFI) project.
EMUFI was founded in 2018 and first publically announced at the 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies.
A public email list is available for group discussion.
Unicode is unequivocally the international font standard and has supported Basic Ethiopic since 1999 under version 3.0 of the standard. Since then, additions to the Unicode standard have been to incorporate Ethiopic symbols as used by the non-primary languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Private Use Area (PUA) of Unicode serves as a built-in extension mechanism that allows for the addition of experimental and special use characters and is fully supported by computer platforms like Windows, Mac and Linux.
The short term goal of the project is to inventory the unencoded symbols found in Ethiopic manuscripts as well as other special use symbols in particular for the Yaredic Zaima practice. Following expert review of the inventory, sufficient information should be available to then determine the appropriate encoding solution for each symbol. Encoding solutions to be considered are:
An initial character recommendation document shall then be produced. Symbols that would be best served by a new code point will be proposed for encoding under an update to the Ethiopian Standards Agency's "Ethiopic Character Set" standard (ES 781). The project team would then work with the ESA on the submission of any additions to the Unicode Consortium for inclusion in a future standard.
An in-development inventory document is available here. Development of the inventory document will be ungoing through October-November of 2018 when an initial first draft is expected to be complete. Additional drafts will follow as subject matter experts provide input. A symbol submission form is available to assist in the addition of new symbols to the inventory. For proper viewing, the form requires the installation of the EMUFI development font.
An "EMUFI Dev" reference font is being developed (github) based on the high quality "Abyssinica SIL" font provided by the SIL International. "Dev" is shorthand for "Development" and the character addresses are subject to change from release to release. The font is only intended to help discussion of the symbol inventory and preferred shapes. Once the inventory has stabalized, and sort order discussed and agreed upon, work on a formal release of an "EMUFI" font will begin and symbol addresses will be fixed.
Like the "Abyssinica SIL" font that it is based on, "EMUFI Dev" applies the Open Font License.