Questionnaire about the needs of Greek typography end-users

BACKGROUND:
During the last few decades Greek typography has been strongly influenced by Latin elements. Often, there is substitution of Greek letters by Latin ones. A few designers try to preserve characteristic Greek typographic elements into their work, but overall Greek typography appears to trend towards Latin assimilation.

AIMS:
a) To define what constitutes Greek characteristics in a font,
b) To delineate the needs and problems faced by contemporary Greek typography end-users (graphic designers, book publishers of Greek texts, etc.)

EXPLORATORY QUESTIONS:
a) How do you define or how do you approach the issue of a Greek characteristic in a font?
b) What questions would you have for end-users of your fonts?
c) Why do you design Greek fonts?

P.S. The results of this study, including all information from font-designers and end-users, will be posted in this blog in the end of June.

ilyaz's picture

> in print the strokes that some people add to the numeral 7 or the letter z in handwriting are not used

They are in (many? most?) fonts for Russian.

Tatiana Marza's picture

@Brian,
The problem I have with this narrative is that a lot of today's Greek handwriting uses non-descending η.

Voila, quelque chose interesante...

Pay attention at the letters I wrote above. This is the handwriting (from last year) of one of my teachers, a very intelligent person, who is a philologist too.
She has two kind of 'η' and 'π'. Also, the 'ψ' = 'y'.
I assume because she is writing a lot, she found her own way for a quick writing.

I do not have handwriting styles of previous century (yet), but if you have time, you may have a look at the PDF I posted of Sigala's book (evolution of hand writing from the beginning till 16th century).
______

BTW, why do you find that my second image (about sans serif) is not latinized?
(Now, I am doing the statistical analysis of the questionnaires...)

quadibloc's picture

@ilyaz:
I believe the strokes he is talking about are these:


z is not even like that in Russian.

Tatiana Marza's picture

Ok. You made me dig some of my papers. I found that my own teacher of Greek language was using two kinds of 'η', with descending part and without. Then, I found a paper of mine { 2000, and please, don't laugh at my letters:) }, where we were training on how to write greek letters and their variations. See my teacher's corrections, that 'ψ' may be 'y' (and in mathematics, when you write/talk about x+y axis, we do pronounce in Greece 'hi' and 'psi'). Also, she corrected my 'ς' with a latin one. And 'κ' may be like latin 'u'...
I am not sure what all that means. I have the impression that we could talk about a handwriting style and a printed style of greek letters. How much they influence each other, I don't know. And if people who are using latin substitutions in they handwriting style are/aren't bothered by latinized printed letters, I also do not know . That would be another project!

John Hudson's picture

Brian: However, if η with a descender was indeed established as the exclusive handwritten form due to the above reason, then that may have contributed to the same form being adopted exclusively in print in later centuries.

Note that I did not suggest that the descending form was established as the exclusive form in handwriting first and hence in typography. In manuscript, both forms are seen right through to 1600 (and also, of course, a variation of forms in ligatures). What I said was that the cursive kappa was adopted as the standard form in typography (of the Aldine tradition), and hence that would encourage corresponding standardisation of the descending eta as a more easily distinguished form.

Tatiana's image of her teacher's handwriting is very interesting, because it confirms another suspicion I had, which is that non-descending eta would be virtually indistinguishable from one form of cursive pi (which corresponds, by the way, to the Cyrillic handwritten and italic pe).

John Hudson's picture

Tatiana, I think it might be a little misleading to say that 'ψ' may be 'y'. There is a cursive form of ψ that is close in its construction to a particular kind of Latin y, but it isn't the case that other forms of the Latin y can be substituted for ψ.

I also wouldn't interpret your teacher's correction to your final sigma as being a Latin s. It seems to me she was simply indicating that this letter is normally written fast and loose, and that your attempts had been too stiff and formal (contrast with your looser, faster zeta and ksi).

Tatiana Marza's picture

The zeta and ksi who gave me a big headache:) Today I write them like this:


Ok, I think you are right, John, about the misleading. For sure she didn't mean that the 'y' or 's' are latin or should be latin. But they DO look latin :) And this is the difference for me between the handwriting style and the printed one, where in the first case, at least one has the excuse that is about a very fast writing, so these forms are evolving 'naturally'. And also, some forms are excepted in the written style, but not in the printed one.
In what degree the contemporary handwriting style of Greeks should be taking in consideration? (referring to our topic) Maybe we are going to make the same mistake as Manutius? :)

Albert Jan Pool's picture

Jongseong: much as in print the strokes that some people add to the numeral 7 or the letter z in handwriting are not used.

I doubt wether the use of the strokes in 7 and z is related to the use of the strokes that are used above or below т and ш as in Cyrillic. As far as I know, the strokes in 7 and z were introduced by the calligraphers that wrote with the pointed flexible nib. Especially in the cursive styles, their horizontal parts were written with a wavy stroke that is thick in the middle (like in ñ, the spanish tilde on n). The diagonal stroke in 7 and z was long and thin. The horizontal strokes in the middle of 7 and z optically compensate the large amount of white space in 7 and z. That’s it. In typefaces, the hairlines are normally not that thin as in the pointed nib calligraphy styles, so from an optical point of view, usually there is no necessity for them. Unless a typeface merely mimicks the a cursive pointed flexible nib writing style with thin hairlines … The use of these strokes in handwriting is not exclusive to Russia. They are mainly a feature of the aforementioned script and you will find them in those countries where it has influenced the way handwriting has been taught. For example in Great Britain, France and the Netherlands and especially in documents from the time that this influence was large or still lasting.

Albert Jan Pool's picture

Update: The horizontal stroke in Z can also be found much earlier than the pointed flexible nib style. When you check the books of Delamotte (who copied many pages from elder books by other people) you will find many examples of historical, archaic and even funny forms of Z that feature a horizontal stroke in the middle. I bet you find them for 7 as well …

Tatiana Marza's picture

If you find out, tell me too, please:)

Jongseong's picture

I found a good resource for examples of Greek handwriting after 1600—the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts collection which you can search by keyword and date.

For example, there are some volumes from the collection known as the Guilford manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries: MS 8221, MS 8222, MS 8223, MS 8224, MS 8225, MS 8226, MS 8227, MS 8228, MS 8229, MS 8230, MS 8231, MS 8232, MS 8233, MS 8234, MS 8235, MS 8236, MS 8237, MS 8238, MS 8239, MS 8240, MS 8241, MS 8242, MS 8243

J Weltin's picture

I found this here, how to exercise beautiful Greek handwriting.
Published in Würzburg, Germany in 1898.

ilyaz's picture

>I believe the strokes he is talking about are these: 7̶ ƶ. z is not even like that in Russian.

It is in Russian fonts. Remember that Latin must be harmonized with Cyrillic? ;-)

John Hudson's picture

Good British Library find, Brian. Thanks.

Of course, we have not yet considered the ascending eta. :)

Nick Shinn's picture

Museum Britannicum—nice to see some real Latin in this discussion!

quadibloc's picture

And here I thought the Russian Z looked like this: З and so I am not sure what kind of bar might be placed on it or through it. I do remember the bar over the m in handwriting, now that it has been mentioned.

John Hudson's picture

And here I thought the Russian Z looked like this: З

There is a descending, looped cursive form found in handwriting and in script fonts, which is very similar to the cursive Latin z that is common from the 18th Century. A bar strikes me as superfluous, and defeating the whole point of a cursive form that can be easily written in running script without lifting the pen.

Jongseong's picture

Of course, we have not yet considered the ascending eta. :)

And look how similar it is to the ascending κ you find on the same page. :)

John Hudson's picture

Strangely, scribes seem to have actively employed stylistically related forms of eta and kappa, in the same way that Latin writers might coordinate forms of g and y. I've been looking more thoroughly through the later examples in the French issue of Repertorium der griechischen Kopisten and note that when an ascending eta is used it tends to be accompanied by an ascending kappa. A non-descending eta, on the other hand, may be accompanied by either a cursive kappa or by a K-shape kappa. Kappa is a relatively infrequent letter, so many single-page or fragment exemplars will show eta but no kappa, so it isn't possible to identify strong patterns from the sources I have.

ilyaz's picture

> Here I thought the Russian Z looked like this: З

No problem with this. But I was discussing a Latin Z in Russian fonts.

Jongseong's picture

Strangely, scribes seem to have actively employed stylistically related forms of eta and kappa, in the same way that Latin writers might coordinate forms of g and y

The first thought I had was that the ascending η and κ looked like some handwritten forms of their cognate Latin letters h and k, which can be subject to similar confusion in a sloppy hand.

Tatiana: BTW, why do you find that my second image (about sans serif) is not latinized?

I am not saying it is not Latinized, but because monolinear sans serif designs are just basic skeletons of letters it is not conclusive whether the forms were arrived at by imitation of Latin forms or by a parallel geometric simplification. It is more obvious with high-contrast, serif designs where you have wholesale copying of Latin construction details such as the full foot serifs on the η.

In what degree the contemporary handwriting style of Greeks should be taking in consideration?

No more than the contemporary handwriting style of Latin or other writing systems should be taken in consideration in designing typefaces. Handwriting and lettering styles and printed letterforms continuously influence each other, but rather subtly. Printed letterforms tend to be more conservative and to settle on a single normative form for a letter which can have several different forms when written by hand. The reason I brought up handwriting was to dispel the notion that a non-descending η could only be explained as due to Latin influence, not to suggest that printed forms should take the cue from contemporary handwriting.

quadibloc's picture

@jongseong:
I am not saying it is not Latinized, but because monolinear sans serif designs are just basic skeletons of letters it is not conclusive whether the forms were arrived at by imitation of Latin forms or by a parallel geometric simplification. It is more obvious with high-contrast, serif designs where you have wholesale copying of Latin construction details such as the full foot serifs on the η.

A very good point. To me, it appears that the descender on the eta is not a "foot", but a "tail", and ought to come to some kind of a point in a Roman serif typeface treatment of the Greek lower-case alphabet. But I could be completely wrong.

Jongseong's picture

I think my uneasiness is mostly with the idea of full serifs on Greek minuscule letters. To me they still seem alien to formal Greek typography.

In the case of Latin typography, the grafting of majuscule-style full serifs to minuscule letters must have been similarly jarring at first. But it became so well established that you find this in formal handwritten styles from centuries ago, not just in typefaces. Below is an image originally posted by John Hudson in the Rule or Law thread showing George Shelley's Natural Writing in all the Hands, with Variety of Ornament dating from 1709 (to emphasize, this is handwriting, not type):

Here, full serifs on the minuscule letters are part of the formal writing style. I haven't seen anything comparable with Greek minuscules. Maybe today's Greek typefaces with full serifs on minuscule letters will become fully established and be regarded as normal in the future. But until then, they will seem a bit off to me for anything other than display purposes.

That's part of my reservations about Centro serif, which I actually really like. It's more subtle and restrained in its deployment of full serifs on Greek minuscules than some examples that we've seen, but I would warm to it more as a neutral text face if it stuck closer to more authentic constructions.

eliason's picture

to emphasize, this is handwriting, not type

Engraving, no?

John Hudson's picture

Engraving copied from a handwritten original, which is the point of these kinds of publications: to serve as exemplars and advertisements for writing tutorials. In the same book that Brian cites, George Shelley feels obliged to state that Bickham's 'Imitation falls short of my originals'. One of the things I have noticed in my research on the development of the English Roman is that when new styles are introduced by writing masters it takes a while for engravers to become proficient at cutting them. So, for examples, in the first example of the formal roman style that I've found, in John Seddon's 1695 book, it's cutting is notably crude compared the cursive styles and ornaments in the same publication.

This is drifting quite far off topic for the thread, so we can take this up elsewhere if of sufficient interest.

sgh's picture

I have greatly enjoyed this discussion about Greek typography. Thanks everyone for making it so illuminating!

Tatiana (or anyone else), I have a question for you: what font did you use for the Latin sample showing the relative letter frequency? The comment was http://typophile.com/node/101331#comment-551561 posted on 20 Apr 2013 — 12:07am (it's on page 3). I can't quite identify it, and I figured these easiest thing to do would be just to ask. I have been trying repeatedly to send this question via Typophile's "contact" page directly to Tatiana, but it is always flagged as spam and blocked.

Thanks!
Stephen

Michel Boyer's picture

In computer science, we count from 0; it is thus page 2, not 3; if you specify it in the link, it works: http://typophile.com/node/101331?page=2#comment-551561.

hrant's picture

And our trees are upside-down.

hhp

Michel Boyer's picture

like family trees

hrant's picture

One of my college CompSci teachers said it's because pot grows better upside-down.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Sounds more like a poliSci teacher to me ;-)

Tatiana Marza's picture

Hello, Stephen! :)

I apologize for the late response. These days I was working on the layout and printing stage of my paperwork. Frankly, I enjoyed more the searching part than this one.

What font did you use for the Latin sample showing the relative letter frequency?
I chose GFS Elpis, a greek typeface designed by Greek Font Society, http://www.greekfontsociety.gr/pages/en_typefaces20th.html.
I needed a font which retains the characteristics of greek letters and has an English version too.

dezcom's picture

Tatiana,

I hope you will post a pdf of your final paper for us to see the fruits of your labor?

Tatiana Marza's picture

Chris, yes, I was thinking of pdf file and was going to ask how I could do this, in terms of codes. You want all my paper work (which is in Greek), or just the survey part (which I will translate for you in English, of course)?

dezcom's picture

The whole thing would be great. I will struggle through the Greek ;-)

Chris Dean's picture

@Tatiana Marza: Do you have a web site or other such open-access location where you will self-archive your work prior to publication?

Tatiana Marza's picture

Hello, Chris (D) :)

No, I don't. And I was thinking to upload it on http://www.academia.edu/ in order to be accessed by other people who are interested in reading it. The only major problem is that the text is written in Greek...
Do you have any other ideas?

Tatiana Marza's picture

Dear Typophiles,

I would like to thank you all for your contribution to this forum and thus making possible the writing of my dissertation.
It was a rewarding experience throughout the last months and I am more than grateful for being introduced into the world of typography by such remarkable type designers!

The text of my dissertation "The Latinisation of Greek typographic characters" (in Greek) was posted as a pdf file on academia.edu web site, http://akto.academia.edu/TatianaMarza.
(for a better view of the downloaded file, please choose form Acrobat's menu View>Page display>Two-up)

The results of my research (in English), which is the 'C Part' of the dissertation, will be posted within few days on the same web site.

__________

Please note, that although there is no established convention for citing Typophile's comments I tried to respect the existent convention found till now.

Thank you!

dezcom's picture

Thank you, Tatiana!
I can't seem to be able to find it, though. Perhaps it is not yet posted? or there is something I am doing wrong?

edit:
I logged in again and it went fine this time! Thanks!

Tatiana Marza's picture

You're welcome, Chris :)
Right now I am finishing the English translation and soon the results of the survey and a part of the dissertation will be available too.
Of course, I am waiting to answer to all questions which will arouse and to discuss any of your comments/critique.

dezcom's picture

My Greek is not good so it is very slow reading fort me ;-) Thanks for the mention, though!

John Hudson's picture

It would be nice if the PDF were available from somewhere that didn't require a Facebook account in order to download it.

hrant's picture

Totally.

hhp

Tatiana Marza's picture

John, I wasn't aware that a facebook account is required. I do not have one and perhaps by signing up to academia.edu one can have access to files. If you can give me another website where I can upload the PDF (size - 25 MB), I would be more than glad to do it!

John Hudson's picture

Thanks, Tatiana. Yes, it seems possible to sign up for academia.edu without Facebook. I was confused because the site pushes Facebook so heavily: when you click to download the PDF there is a massive Facebook logo and a message saying you have to be signed-in. Turns out that mean signed-in to academia.edu, but there's no way one would presume that from the design.

hrant's picture

The link does work! But it's all Greek to me. ;-)

hhp

dezcom's picture

Hrant, your name is not in Greek! ;-P

Chris Dean's picture

@Tatiana Marza: Congratulations on such a big accomplishment.

I don’t know if I have already mentioned it or not, but when citing Typophile as a source for your research, APA recommends the following:

Dean, C. T. (2013, March 11). Re: Questionnaire about the needs of Greek typography end-users [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://typophile.com/node/101331

However, that actually doesn’t allow readers to double check multiple in-text citations against their references on a forum with multiples pages such as Typophile. I looked into this very extensively following a few requests from other students asking me how to reference Typophile as a source in their research. My recommendation is as follows:

————
In-text citation
“This is the quote or passage.” (Dean, 2008, March 7, Page 8, 17:33).

Reference
Dean, C. T. (2008, March 7, Page 8, 17:33). Re: Thread title [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from ttp://typophile.com/node/101331
————

The only URL you need to use, regardless of what page the comment is on, is the URL of the first page of the thread. The reader will then be able to navigate to the correct page using Typophile’s navigation, and search on the specific page to double check the reference.

Tatiana Marza's picture

Chris, thank you for your kinds words.
I checked my text and I found that the in-text citations were correct, but of course, they are in Greek.
Regarding the reference list...my big question is: eg. I have many citations of John Hudson and therefore I cannot mention all pages in different references. I mentioned the period of his involvement and the URL of first page. For Panos Vassiliou, I suppose, the reference should follow the rules you are indicating. This are in the Greek text. If you can give me a solution for the reference part, I will change the list in the English version. Thank you!

P.S. Hrant, the current pdf file is in Greek, because Chris (Lozos) asked me to attach the whole text. In few days I will give you a link to the English version.

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