Reading in Symbol Font

Papyrus in Greek regarding tax issues (3rd ca. BC.) Image by Tilemahos, used under Creative Commons: Attribution license, September 6th, 2012.

Hello everyone! This is my ninth MET course, which will mean I complete the program next semester. It has been a great program so far, but I am really excited by this course. I find the combination of history (figuring out the evolution of reading, writing, etc.) and technology to be a perfect fit for me. This makes sense since I have a B.A. as a Joint Major in History and Humanities (with a Concentration in British History) and a B.Ed. During my B.A. I also studied abroad and took an interest in paleography and the classics, both of which have randomly been useful in my four years as a teacher in Coquitlam. This year I am teaching an adapted Humanities program, an adapted Reading Recovery class, and providing one on one support in my school’s learning center, all at the secondary level.

This image embodies several of my interests and at the same time represents the course, to me at least. When I learned to speak and read Ancient Greek (the text shown in this image) I found it funny that my instructor told us to type our assignments in the font called “Symbol”, as that font is made up of characters from the Ancient Greek alphabet. This collision of an ancient language and a modern technology astounded me, yet it was a useful option throughout those courses and is still something that I take advantage of. The main question that this inspired, however, was why or how an ancient language was turned into a font – is it used that often? Do people realize that they are typing a language when they utilize this font? Was the demand for Ancient Greek high enough to warrant its creation in the computer world? Whatever the reason, I find it incredibly interesting to consider that this is a digital image of a document from the third century B.C.E. that was posted on a website, accessed via laptop and the Internet, and shared on a collaborative weblog. Through all of this mingling of past and present the image travelled from Greece (Thessaloniki) to Vancouver, to who knows where and the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was “Symbol font!” Curious, isn’t it?

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