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Brothers Unveil Latest Version of the First-Ever Alphabet They Designed for their Native Fulani Language

Pulaar is a West African language spoken by the Fulani people. However, no one had established an alphabet for the language during the majority of the people’s existence. In response to this need, the Barry brothers launched an endeavor in 1989 to satisfy it. They created an alphabet for their original language, which became known as ADLaM – an abbreviation for a phrase that translates to “the alphabet that will prevent a people from being lost.”

However, in order to preserve it for future generations, they launched a new endeavor to digitize the alphabet. After a successful test, Ibrahim and Abdoulaye Barry recently launched the ADLaM Display with the help of Microsoft and McCann NY. The new digital version of ADLaM is now accessible for usage across the Microsoft 365 suite, desktop, and mobile platforms, completing the Barry brothers’ objective of preserving nomadic culture and promoting literacy among them.

The new ADLaM version differs from the earlier version in that it is readily accessible over the internet. According to McCann NY, this was made possible by an upgrade to the new interface that included additional letters that account for the progress of the Fulani language.

It is estimated that by the end of the century, 90 percent of the world’s languages will be extinct. That is why, according to Shayne Millington, Co-Chief Creative Officer at McCann NY, they collaborated with the brothers on the project to safeguard the continuation of a key culture in the world. Fulani myths, traditions, and deep knowledge are now in danger of being lost. This is considered as providing an opportunity for the nomadic tribe to transition between the old and new worlds while still enjoying their culture and identity as a people.

Kathleen Hall, Chief Brand Officer at Microsoft, expressed confidence that the campaign will be supported beyond the Fulani community and will help preserve the nomadic tribesmen’s cultural legacy. ADLaM has been successfully adopted by the Fulani and has acquired appeal in the community across West Africa and the Fulani diaspora globally as a consequence of the collective effort. The first two ADLaM-focused schools in Guinea have opened, allowing Fulani students to learn a comprehensive curriculum in their mother tongue for the first time.

Furthermore, the Mali government is in the process of establishing ADLaM as an official alphabet in its constitution, and Guinea has taken steps to guarantee ADLaM is recognized as the official alphabet of Pulaar.

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