Noto Sans Nüshu: A script created by women from a remote region enters the Google Fonts Noto Sans family

Words "Hello", "你好" and the Nüshu equivalent set in Noto Sans typeface in orange gradients on light yellow background
with Noto Sans Regular in Latin, Chinese and Nüshu

Gao Yinxian's handwriting
一岁女,手上珠 (One year girl, hands with pearl) by Gao Yinxian 高银仙 (1902–1990)

Reading time: 15min

Note: To avoid any confusion in word meaning, I will use the following contractions: Chinese as Chinese spoken language. Hanzi as Chinese written characters (汉字). Nüshu as Nüshu script. Nüshu script as it is sounds redundant, as (where the ü is pronounced like a French [u]) means ‘woman’ (女), and shū (书 – meaning more commonly ‘book’ but also ‘script’) stands for script already. Tuhua as local dialects (explanations further below).

Introduction

In these modern times, literacy is something that we take for granted, and for (almost) everyone across the globe. All throughout human history, writing systems play an essential role to its evolution. The knowledge of writing and reading is something that we imagine accessible to all in a utopic world, with no barriers, bringing societies further and better… But obviously and unfortunately, it hasn’t been this way. There must have been solutions through the ages, around the world, created and developed out of a practical need, but very few of them become general knowledge, reach our times, or are in the spotlight.

Continue reading