No more tofu

Tom Tytherleigh
21 October 2016

We name things. Have you noticed? Hope so. Because, recently, we’ve been trying well ’ard to remind you.

The reason is: we’ve got a new naming process. A hot new naming process. A hot new naming process for coming up with hot new names.

We’ll be telling you about that soon. But for today, someone else’s name. From someone else’s naming process. A name so cute, and clever, it had us saying things like:



              Fair dos.

              Like it.

              Credit where credit is due. That’s a really good name.


The marvellous, glittery beacon of our affection is Noto. Google’s new typeface. And Monotype’s new typeface. And my new typeface. And your new typeface.

Because Noto’s big thing is that it supports over 800 languages. Including one that had never been transcribed. It’s not so much a set of characters as a political observation: no language is too minor, no minority too small.

Imagine naming that. The pressure. The pitfalls. The temptation to do something big and bold and a bit too earnest. The stakeholders. And, among them, the conscientious objectors:


              No-to… doesn’t that sound a bit negative?

              No to what, exactly?

              No to tofu.  

              … tofu?


Tofu. Not just the mercifully bland buffer you get in food that’s a bit too spicy. Also the nickname for the empty squares a typeface pushes out in place of a letter it can’t display.

Linguistic blind spots. Precisely what Noto is trying to eradicate.

A really sweet starting point for a really strong name.

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