Of Mice and Keyboards

If Winter is a Year,
Summer can only be a Font

If you are stuck with a text in the rare legacy font Aujaq, there is one piece of good news. The developer’s web site is still up and running, including downloads and keyboard diagrams. Where Aujaq is concerned, that’s about the only good news there is. The font— Well, that’s the beginning of the bad news. There was not one but two of them, one for Windows and one for Mac. So if you are reading comfortably along and the text suddenly starts spouting garbage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the author is suffering from heatstroke. You may simply have blundered into the other platform’s font.

Most legacy fonts worked by letter-to-letter equivalents: q, a, z = ᖏ, ᖑ, ᖓ, and so on across the keyboard. Aujaq is built on codepoints. To make it complicated, its syllabic characters are all in the 8-bit range—the territory of accents (é, ü, ç) and symbols (†, ©, ƒ), where no two encodings were alike in 1995. Correspon­dences like ò, ô, ö (Windows) or Ú, Ù, ˆ (Mac) for ᖏ, ᖑ, ᖓ make perfect sense once you know that these are codepoints F2, F4 and F6. The intervening F3, F5, F7 and F8 make ᖐ, ᖒ, ᖔ and ᖕ.

That’s why the syllabics in this chart have two Roman equivalents. The upper row is for Windows; the lower row is for Mac. In between are the codepoints—almost always the same. The sequence generally runs from top to bottom, column by column. Most of the differences are due to points that were undefined in Windows, like 8F and 90, so the two versions had to use different codepoints. I’ve highlighted the ones that are out of sequence.

To top it off, the whole 80-9F (128-159) range—the first four and a half columns of the chart—is off-limits to Unicode though it is used by both Windows and Mac. So getting a transcoder to work is trickier than for other legacy fonts.

aujaq font image

Luckily people who used the font(s) didn’t need to know any of this. Aujaq came with its own keyboard, with a layout almost identical to Prosyl. And unlike most legacy fonts, Aujaq included the full range of ordinary Roman characters. It anticipated modern UCAS keyboards by using the Caps Lock key to activate the syllabics. Type Caps Lock + q and the keyboard will map your input to codepoint F2; the font then takes over by making the letter look like ᖏ instead of ò (Windows) or Ú (Mac).

WinŽ©Ž «²¹ÀÇÝäëòù
Winž ˆª Ê¬³ºÁÈÞåìóú
Win¦ ˜Ÿ*´»ÂËßæíôû
Win¨ œ£±¸¿ÆÏãêñøÿ

* Character AD (Windows): soft hyphen. For practical purposes it is impossible to make the character ᒧ display in the Aujaq font.

Character A0 (Windows): non-breaking space. There is also a non-breaking space in the Mac character set, but it doesn’t make a syllabic character.

If you look closely you’ll notice that the chart seems to be missing a column, representing the range A4 through AA, as well as some individual codepoints and most of the D range. It’s as if the designer mapped inward from the top and the bottom, and then found himself with empty space to fill. Some of these areas were used for punctu­ation and symbols. But Aujaq also had a cluster of special characters that I haven’t shown here. They included codepoint A4 (Windows ¤, Mac §) for capital Ł, and A7 (Windows §, Mac ß) for a raised double ring. Frankly I have no idea what that last character was. It looks more like the Cree w than anything else—but what’s that doing in a UCAS font? Maybe it was meant to be used as another way to produce the ᙱ series:

character in Aujaq

And Now the Good News

As far as I know, Aujaq was the only legacy font to have an inuksuk character. At 18 points, it looked like this:

inuksuk  inuksuk  inuksuk