Moving pictures: new tool claims to help build correct picto-translations

Edongba facilitates modern hieroglyph use.

Zmnsoft has released a Windows application allowing users to create documents and messages using Dongba hieroglyphs, the only hieroglyphic writing system still in use today. This ancient language is used by the Naxi people of Lijiang City, in China’s Yunnan Province, and is expressed in a combination of Dongba hieroglyphs and Geba symbols. The tool allows hieroglyph use in text editors, word processors and graphics programs, and a press release claims that the tool “makes it easy to select the proper symbols, and build messages.” This helpful translation tool appears to be limited to English-to-Dongba, and indeed the only purpose of the tool appears to be the novelty of word-processing hieroglyphs. The program’s Dongba font includes 1,561 Dongba hieroglyphs, 661 Geba scripts and a 50-character international phonetic alphabet for the Naxi language. The cost is $30, but if you’re just curious you can download the trial version from the Edongba website, which also has historical notes on the language.


Katie Botkin
Katie Botkin is a freelance writer. She has a master’s degree in English with an emphasis on linguistics and has taught English on three continents.

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