Non-common Greek Caps?

Nick Shinn's picture

Many of the Greek capital characters share the same glyph form as Roman capitals.
For an OpenType font, where there are different character positions for Roman and Greek capitals, is there any reason, other than convenience, for the glyphs to be identical?

In typographic situations where both Greek and Latin text appear together, harmony may be necessary, but if that can be achieved with different versions of the common capitals, why not?

Ideally, as with the ClearType faces, it makes logical design sense to start from scratch and consider the criteria for all the alphabets which are to be represented in a typeface. However, even then the situation still ends up with the usual tally:
Roman caps: approx. 50 serifs
Roman Lc: approx. 50 serifs
Greek Caps: approx. 65 serifs
Greek Lc: approx. 15 serifs (many of which are "fudged" terminal endings)

I'm including Greek characters in a typeface I'm working on at the moment. It's a revival of a Roman typeface with large serifs. Going the usual route of having common cap glyphs, there is the usual stylistic disparity between Greek caps and lowercase, slightly more pronounced than in Constantia and Cambria, for instance, but as there are plenty of other common stylistic elements (stroke weight, contrast and angle of stress in particular), it's perfectly acceptable.

However, while remaining within the overall mien of the face, it would be quite possible to create a separate set of Greek cap glyphs with fewer serifs, and certain Greek caps could be more easily made properly Greek, such as Upsilon, with curved arms, rather than aping the Roman Y (in fact, Cambria does have this distinct form). Delta and Phi would also benefit by fewer serifs elsewhere among the caps.

Has this already been done?
Is the disparity between Greek caps and lower case, in a traditional serifed face, the desirable norm?
Or do you think the idea of a full set of different cap glyphs is worth pursuing?

hrant's picture

> is there any reason, other than convenience, for the glyphs to be identical?

As I've said before (on Typophile, in my Spatium article, and elsewhere) there's actually good reason NOT to make them identical! Especially for a text face.

One obvious rationale for this is that the spacing is different (Greek having much more round forms, at least in the lc) and this should affect the black bodies too. Related to this is the fact that serifs are indeed not as "authentic" in Greek. And a rationale that's harder to justify but much more powerful in my mind is that communication depends on contrast.

Veljovic's Sava (at your favorite font house :-) is worth looking at.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Hrant.

Sava has the usual double-duty of glyphs.
Yes, as a "calligraphic" design with small serifs, its caps work well in Greek.

But is there another typeface out there with a more comprehensive set of different Greek caps?

hrant's picture

I thought Sava's "Y" was different in each of its three scripts.
Not much, but still more than usual. :-/

hhp

dezcom's picture

Nick,
I have only done one face in Greek and it was a sans but having grown up in a Greek-speaking household, I am of the opinion that the "Identical" part of what you are saying is a convenience which is often done but, to me, not to be followed. The lowercase of the Greek is completely different than Roman and the Greek capitals were romanized by whomsoever has adapted roman faces to Greek usage.
It makes much more sense to me to make the Greek caps Greek caps and not retrofit them to the roman model. I think that the curves prevalent in the lowercase need something different than traditional roman caps. I don't feel that the roman N is quite right for Greek. I also feel that the width proportions are not the same. The roman H feels too wide; the M too vertical; the O too full. Understand that this is my personal opinion and not that of any Greek scholar. All of the ancient Greek inscriptions that I have seen feel narrower than Roman and the Roman feels too rigid.
I also wonder about kerning implications as well as fitting of the Tonos. There may be an advantage of fewer kerning pairs by making a separate Greek set of caps.

ChrisL
_____
I may have 100% Greek blood flowing in my veins, but I do not have scholarly knowledge of Greek writing flowing from my brains :-)

hrant's picture

> the Roman feels too rigid.

Indeed. And it's quite interesting how the more "pragmatic" Greek
forms started becoming rigid from the moment of political conquest:

http://www.themicrofoundry.com/image/s_rome3-3.gif

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>the Roman feels too rigid

Matthew Carter noted that his Cadmus design of the 1970s was not appreciated in Greece, because its looseness made it look archaic.

To me, the issue is not that the Greek alphabet is naturally less regularized, in the lower case, than the Roman, but that it is traditionally so. The present day Greek sans faces are more rigid/formalized than the old serif faces, as is the case with Roman types, too.

A severely formalized Greek serif face should be feasible, with or without serifs in the lower case.

hrant's picture

> because its looseness made it look archaic.

I must have missed that - where is that from?

I always considered that Cadmus was ignored for the same reason that Linotype* was commissioned to make highly Latinized Greek fonts: a blinding desire to be "European", at the expense of everything else.

* And thus Carter himself. In fact Cadmus was a reaction to that.

Formalism: I don't know what you mean by "feasible", but there's the question of what formalization does to functionality and cultural authenticity & progress. Although I don't necessarily think Greek is "naturally" less formal, I do actually think that Latin can become better (for text at least) by loosening up.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>where is that from?

Typographically Speaking: The Art of Matthew Carter, Princeton Architectural Press, 2003

>what you mean by “feasible”

An internally-consistent design that would be acceptable to at least a few end-users.

dezcom's picture

"An internally-consistent design that would be acceptable to at least a few end-users."

You expect Greeks to agree on something? :-)
I hope my family is not indicative of how prone Greeks are to agreeon things.

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

The common disparity between the Greek upper- and lowercase derives from different ducti, and the more traditional the ductus of the lowercase the more disparity there will be. Constantia is an example of a hybrid lowercase, in which the ductus of the lambda, pi and tau tends towards the traditional ductus, while many other letters are closer to the ductus of the Latin for greater harmony of appearance. This may be the last Greek typeface I design in this way: I'm pretty happy with the result in Constantia, but I'd rather work more fully with the traditional ductus.

I'm not sure that anything can be done about the disparity with the uppercase. You can't apply the traditional lowercase ductus to the uppercase letters without making something very freakish, and you can't apply the typical uppercase ductus to the lowercase letters without effectively Latinising the Greek letters. The Greek bicameral alphabet is the result of a shotgun wedding between two different alphabets of independent evolution.

Needless to say, the lower the contrast of a typeface is, the easier it is to blend the treatment of upper- and lowercase Greek letters.

hrant's picture

> I’m not sure that anything can be done about the disparity with the uppercase.

Not unlike the case with Latin as well.
You sort have to let them be, to a large extent.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>you can’t apply the typical uppercase ductus to the lowercase letters without effectively Latinising the Greek letters.

I haven't experienced that problem.
I've been able to make a "modern" (Didot) Greek lower case which follows the traditional letter shapes.
The design difficulty has not been with the ductus, but the serifs.
As I pointed out earlier, most of the traditional Greek lower case strokes do not end in serifs. Therefore, a sans serif like Carter's Greek Helvetica has proven to be a successful proposition, because both cases have no serifs. So nu looks like v, gamma like y? -- that's rationalization/modernization, not Latinization/Westernization.

However, a Greek "serifed" face is a bit of an oxymoron, as the lower case is going to be relatively serif free, while the caps are going to have lots of serifs, especially if many of them do double duty in the Roman alphabet.
So what I'm inclining towards now is a distinct set of semi-serifed Greek-only capitals, so that the glyphs for A and Alpha, B and Beta, E and Epsilon, etc., will all be different -- as has been done occasionally in the past with Y and Upsilon.

I'll post a PDF when it's done.

hrant's picture

> that’s rationalization/modernization, not Latinization/Westernization.

Well, "internally" you're free to call it what you like... :-)
But as far as Greek culture is concerned it clearly makes
things more Latin - and certain people (including Carter)
rightly object to that.

> I’ll post a PDF when it’s done.

Yes, god forbid not during...

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Nick, in my view serifs per se are completely alien to the Greek lowercase: there are entry and exit strokes that are properly part of the letter in most styles, but one shouldn't think of these as serifs. They are more like the exit stroke of a Latin lowercase a, which may or may not occur even in sans serif types.

I disagree that Matthew's Helvetica is a successful proposition. For instance, I don't think nu should ever look like a Latin v. I don't think that constitutes 'rationalisation', considering that there is absolutely no precendence for the nu to take that form. What is being rationalised? Not the form of the nu, which is simply being ignored in favour of a mistaken belief that the Latin v is some kind of homograph. It is an arbitrary decision, as if one decided that a Latin w should take the form of a Greek omega. I mean, ωhat the fυck?

The most telling problem of the old Helvetica Greek is that it doesn't look like Helvetica. If you put text in the Latin and Greek side-by-side, they have completely different typographic colour. This was the major impetus to design a new Greek for Helvetica Linotype.

Nick Shinn's picture

>it clearly makes things more Latin

Surely that's not the way it would appear in Greece today, after 30 years of Linotype Greek Helvetica. I think the dominant perception would be of old vs. new, not Greek vs. Latin.

>I don’t think nu should ever look like a Latin v. I don’t think that constitutes ‘rationalisation’,

Paul Renner rationalized j into a straight line (Futura), removing the time-honored curve, and rationalizing nu into v is the same idea. It's that art-theory sense or rationalizing that I'm referring to, not implying that it is better because it is more "logical". I'm suggesting that such rationalization, as a formal procedure, is not the stamp of any one culture, but can afflict (if you like) any.

The "flipped N" form of the kappa appears to have become archaic, replaced by the roman form small-cap K, so I don't think that the traditional forms are sacrosanct.

>I disagree that Matthew’s Helvetica is a successful proposition.

What you're saying is that it's incorrect, because it has proved very successful, as has his Verdana, again with a straight, symmetrical nu, and also with a pi shaped like Renner's original n in Futura!

Anyway, I wasn't talking so much about success as determined by mass usage, but pointing out that in a Greek sans serif there is harmony between caps and lower case, because neither have serifs, whereas in a Greek "serif" face the lower case doesn't really have serifs, so less harmony there.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I thought one of John's comments was funny, because in my printed lettering I usually make my lowercase "w" look almost exactly like a Greek omega. But that aside, I largely agree with John's comments. But I also agree very much with Nick's final point about easier bicameral harmony with a Greek sans compared to a Greke serif. D'oh!

T

John Hudson's picture

Nick, Futura is pretty much a one-off with regard to the straight j. It is a freak, not a new model for what the letter j looks like.

With regard to the form of the kappa, both shapes have been in use for some time -- indeed, there are plenty of examples of forms that make obvious the transition from one to the other --, and the appropriateness of one or the other is more dependent on the style of typeface than notions of archaic vs. modern. And I disagree with your characterisation of the second form as being a 'roman form small-cap K'. The second kappa form derives directly from the earlier one: the key structural difference is that the leg is a separate stroke, rather than a return from the upper right. The fact that this has been rationalised into something more like K in some typefaces shouldn't obscure the origins and variety of this form. [The two forms of kappa in the new Adobe Garamond Premiere Pro fonts are worth examining.]

If you are not talking about Helvetica Greek as being successful in terms of mass usage, I wonder in what sense you do consider it successful? I consider it successful only in terms of mass usage. I don't think it succeeds in being Helvetica, and I don't think it succeeds in being Greek. Further, the rationalisation itself is inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary: why maintain the entry stroke of the gamma while removing it from the nu? why treat the poor sigma as an omicron with a stick attached when elsewhere the relationship of adjacent straights and curves is handled in a way that is both more sophisticated and more characteristic of Helvetica?

Anyway, our disagreement about the (de)merits of Helvetica Greek aside, I look forward to seeing your semi-serif Greek caps. This sounds to me like a good idea to explore, and most likely fruitful.

By the way, if you take a look at the MS font Sylfaen, you'll note that the Greek caps Geraldine Wade made for the design are different from the corresponding Latin forms. In that case, Geraldine found my thick Latin wedge serifs to be too massive to work with her Greek lowercase, so reduced the weight of them.

Nick Shinn's picture

>It is a freak, not a new model for what the letter j looks like.

I mentioned it as an example of rationalization/modernization.
It's immaterial whether it's a one-off: it is "non-Latin" in the sense that you portray straight-sided nu's as being non-Greek. Yet it works perfectly well within the context of a much-loved Roman typeface (whereas many of Renner's radical forms, offered as alternate sorts, fell by the wayside).

It's incidental that a straight-sided nu looks like a v -- it's a simplified form (symmetry being simpler than asymmetry, straight lines being simpler than curves), not a Romanized form.

With regard to the kappa, I was perhaps mistaken to characterize the "small cap K" version as Roman; as you point out, it is more plausible as an adaptation of the single-stroke, script original. But if it's acceptable to take the older form of kappa and radicalize its geometry into something more closely resembling a roman glyph (with the same sound, even), what is so heretical about a little ironing of nu?

I consider Helvetica Greek to be succesful in integrating upper and lower case.
I think it's successful enough in being both (as far as that is possible) Helvetica and Greek, although I find the alpha, omicron, sigma and rho a little too samey in their roundness -- but I don't think that's a cardinal sin, for the same phenomenon exists in the Roman geometrics (Futura again), to a far greater extent, and that hasn't proved detrimental.

Nick Shinn's picture

>This sounds to me like a good idea to explore, and most likely fruitful.

Thanks for the encouragement! And to Hrant also. I'll give it a try.

dezcom's picture

Nick,
Your concept of the semi-serif makes the most sense to me. With it you have the opportunity to make a marriage with the roman glyphs without making it a shotgun wedding.
What are your plans for the italic? Because my learning of Greek began during WWII and ended in the late 50s, I never saw much of Greek italics or ever "got" them. I remember seeing old books where instead of using italics as we do, the roman was letterspaced (stealing sheep). The only italics which felt comfortable to me where more calligraphic. I know the World has moved on since then (even though my schoolboy memories have not) and italic is quite normal for Greek in the present time. I seem to remember a version of Baskerville some time ago which had a Greek italic which I found unsettling at the time. The Greek in the newest Adobe Super-duper Garamond Premier Pro end-all be-all, is quite friendly to me now though.

Please do post a sample of your new face when the time feels right.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

> Surely that’s not the way it would appear in Greece today

Have you asked? My impressions from 2002 and 2004 are the opposite.
Also: it's not what people manage to verbalize, it's what they feel.

> It’s that art-theory sense or rationalizing that I’m referring to

Which is, of course, what can never work in Design. :-/

> [The Futura "j"] is a freak

To me, the entire font is a freak.

> Sylfaen, you’ll note that the Greek caps Geraldine Wade made for
> the design are different from the corresponding Latin forms.

I'm happy to hear that!

Semi-serifs: an idea under-used even more in Latin than in Greek!

hhp

John Hudson's picture

It’s incidental that a straight-sided nu looks like a v — it’s a simplified form (symmetry being simpler than asymmetry, straight lines being simpler than curves), not a Romanized form.

Sorry, Nick, but I think you have to judge the old Helvetica Greek within the context of all the Linotype Greek designs of the early 1970s. At the time, Linotype had a virtual monopoly on typesetting equipment in Greece, largely due to a promise to the local agent that Linotype would produce Greek versions of any existing typeface requested by the local market (this information from Mike Parker). At the time, partly due to the policies of the military dictatorship, the trend in Greece was to look western and modern. The result was a library of highly Latinised Greek designs: Baskerville, New Century Schoolbook, Souvenir, Times and, yes, Helvetica. Helvetica is not some separate programme of rationalisation and modernism: it demonstrates exactly the same approach to Latinisation as the other Linotype Greek types of that time, only more subtly because it doesn't have serifs stuck on every available appendage. [By the way, at the Greek type conference in Athens in the mid-90s, Matthew joked about being surprised that he hadn't been asked to add serifs to the Helvetica Greek, since they were so much the rage.]

The Helvetica Greek nu, far from being 'not a Romanized form', is the Latin v glyph! The only difference is the spacing.

I consider Helvetica Greek to be succesful in integrating upper and lower case. I think it’s successful enough in being both (as far as that is possible) Helvetica and Greek...

The integration with the uppercase is primarily a function of the low contrast, not of letter construction. I think it is possible to be both Helvetica and Greek to a much greater extent.

hrant's picture

Nick, try to can get a hold of "Greek letters: from tablets to pixels" (1996) which covers what John just wrote and a lot more. The [edited] transcript of the roundtable discussion, with the likes of Jérôme Peignot and Nicolas Barker is nothing short of illuminating. Another great reference is the proceedings of the 2002 conference in Thessaloniki.

--

BTW, my favorite quote concerning the wanton rationalization/Latinization of scripts is something Peter Lofting once said in criticism of Frutiger's Devanagari design: "You cannot chop up the curly bits."

hhp

dezcom's picture

Hrant,
Thanks for the references. I just ordered "...Tablets to Pixels" from Amazon but when I Googled "proceedings of the 2002 conference in Thessaloniki" I get every manner of thing from Physics to social and economic discussions but no linguistic/typography hits. Is there a more definitive name to search or do you have a source for it?

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

Chris, if you enquire about this on the ATypI member list, you'll probably get a response from Klimis Mastoridis at the University of Macedonia Press, who organise the Thessalinki type conferences and publish the proceedings. The next conference will be in 2007, and I thoroughly recommend attending.

dezcom's picture

John,
Thanks very much! I'll post it to AtypI.
I would love to go to the next conference if only I could afford to go :-(

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

>it is possible to be both Helvetica and Greek to a much greater extent.

Nicely done, but I don't think the extent is that great. Some glyphs, such as delta, are more authentic on both counts, but overall the retention of tiny vestigial "curly bits" on characters like upsilon strikes me as tokenism*. It is subtly continued throughout the Linotype version, and forms an effective stylistic theme, but I don't think there is anything significantly less Greek in the more ruthlessly modernized Carter version. In fact, the "dubious" flat top to the delta echoes his treatment of the top of xi and zeta, which to my mind is a perfectly legitimate design feature for all three glyphs, and in this consideration of a shared feature, respectfully Greek.

I guess what I'm saying is that historic cultural authenticity is not the only game in town, and that I'm suspicious of its volkisch quality. It's also possible to be modern and local, or modern and international.

*So John, as you hinted in that direction, I'm excited at the prospect of a contemporary, clean, Greek monoline sans from you that goes beyond tokenism, fully grounded in the traditional ductus.

>Have you asked?

No, other than second-generation Greek friends in Toronto, and looking at magazines. But I'm aware of the main issue. It seems to me that there are functional problems today with the traditonal Greek letterforms, with their "baroque" stress, to use Bringhurst's terminology (i.e. stress at many angles), and a profusion of extenders -- which combine to create a dense, awkward text body. What to do, and who to do it, and who to decide on whether it's appropriate?

The forces of commerce in Greece are not afraid to throw out tradition and create bastard "Latinized" forms, if this results in more open, more even text color -- or use western imports to the same effect. On the other side of the issue are public sector traditionalists, who would like to educate the heretics about the error of their ways.

Our frame of reference at Typophile seems to be faces designed for non-Greek multinationals by non-Greek type designers. Gerry Leonidas, a native Greek I'm assuming, has had some say in the ClearType Greek alphabets, but I suspect there are also other, less conservatively inclined Greek type designers at work.

I'm not sure how important it is for a type designer to be indigenous, when designing "foreign" scripts. Type designers are doing multiple language encodings in FontLab now. Ideally, I'd like to see more indigenous type design and local typeface use, but the reality is that many indie foundries cater to an international web market.

A little knowledge sets one off on a sensitive footing -- outreach by Twardoch and Bilak on CE diacritics has been huge -- but then the designer is on his/her own with regards to the degree of historicism, personality, theoretical constructs, etc., that goes into the face. It helps if you can read the alphabet, and for what it's worth Greek is part of my cultural heritage, having studied it at school, so I feel a comfort level that I don't have with Cyrillic; it's unlikely I will include Cyrillic encoding in any of my typefaces.

>it’s what they feel.

"Sincerity is bullshit" - Harry Frankfurt

hrant's picture

Chris, John's ref is it - but let me know if you still have trouble.
Oh, and you of all people are pretty much EXPECTED to be there in 2007. :-)

> tokenism

No, they matter. Why wouldn't they?

> I don’t think there is anything significantly less
> Greek in the more ruthlessly modernized Carter version.

Exactly how do you know that?

> historic cultural authenticity is not the only game in town

I certainly agree. But ignoring history outright can only hurt. You have to know what "rules" you're breaking, and why. Also, by the same token "internal artistic consistency" isn't the only game in town either - in fact to me more than anything it's a succubus, at least in the realm of Text (very different than Display).

> It’s also possible to be modern and local, or modern and international.

But not 100% both - it's always a compromise.

> there are functional problems today with the traditonal Greek letterforms

?
I see more of a problem with cavalier Modernist type designers! :-/

The greater variance in Greek is something to be cherished and amplified for text work, not the other way around. Display, different story.

BTW, if you consider actual letter frequencies rather than just the alphabetic set, you discover something quite surprising: Greek -at least in its contemporary manner of execution- has a lesser vertical divergence than Latin! The "problem" you're seeing is [due to] something else.

> The forces of commerce in Greece are not afraid to throw out
> tradition and create bastard “Latinized” forms, if this results
> in more open, more even text color

The problem, of course, is that highly even color is a dumb objective (for text). And needless to say, this isn't the first time commerce has screwed culture.

I for one am not a traditionalist at all! But that doesn't mean I endorse dysfunctional design... The problem you're alluding to is the typical association of conversative design & apparent competence, and progressive design & failed experiments; but the conservatives only ensure decent -but never superb- functionality through mimickry, while the reason the progressives create so much dysfunction is simply that progress is much harder to pull off! Because they don't understand the underlying mechanisms of scripts and reading (the same as most conservatives). So the two sets are not inherently linked - it's merely a generally-valid association.

> I’m not sure how important it is for a type designer to be indigenous

As I said in my Spatium article, nativity is not required for making decent fonts, but it is a requirement for marking progress in that script; this is because there is an -incommunicable- understanding, an immediate feeling of right/wrong that comes through the subconscious, through extended exposure at a young (i.e. receptive) age, something that cannot be formally taught.

hhp

dezcom's picture

"Oh, and you of all people are pretty much EXPECTED to be there in 2007"

I will see if that matches up with my wife's expectations :-)

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

>> tokenism

>No, they matter. Why wouldn’t they?

That's exactly my point -- either include them or leave them out, but don't just keep them as a nod to tradition, as small apolegetic twiddles, but make them a strong feature.

>> I don’t think there is anything significantly less Greek in the more ruthlessly modernized Carter version.

>Exactly how do you know that?

Pay attention -- I explained it with regards to the flat-topped delta, xi, and zeta.

> ignoring history outright can only hurt.

Usually.

>> there are functional problems today with the traditonal Greek letterforms

>?
I see more of a problem with cavalier Modernist type designers! :-/

Well, if they have the push of a foreign multinational as was the case with Linotype, yes. But surely you will admit that there is also a pull from Greek typographers, especially in commercial publications, away from the traditional forms, just as there has been in the west.

http://www.raissaki.com/pages/somethoughts.html

>The greater variance in Greek is something to be cherished and amplified for text work, not the other way around.

The variance I mentioned was in angle of stress -- my feeling is that if you have a lot of that (especially in a high contrast face, and why shouldn't that be part of the Greek typographer' paintbox?) things can get too jazzy, compounded by the absence of serifs to infer a calming baseline. I thought you were a fan of the powers of serifs....

>an -incommunicable- understanding, an immediate feeling of right/wrong that comes through the subconscious, through extended exposure at a young (i.e. receptive) age, something that cannot be formally taught.

aka WRBWWRM.

hrant's picture

Chris, it's really the perfect summer vacation, especially if you take time before or after the conference for a Halkidiki trip (which doesn't have to be expensive at all). Not that there's nothing to do in Thessaloniki - it's really a wonderful, charming, "multi-historic" city - even nicer than Athens (especially in the summer, when the tourists make Athens unbearable).

hhp

hrant's picture

> make them a strong feature.

Yes, please do that instead.

> I explained it with regards to the flat-topped delta, xi, and zeta.

?
That's related to your "internal artistic consistency", and
not related to what Greeks need. People like their cultures.

> if they have the push of a foreign multinational as was
> the case with Linotype, yes. But surely you will admit that
> there is also a pull from Greek typographers, especially in
> commercial publications

I thought I already admitted that before. In fact natives often cause more harm than the foreigners. As for the Linotype thing, it seems they didn't do much pushing at all - the fiasco was mostly the Greeks' doing: they explicitly and forcefully asked for those frankensteins. And it's notable that -as I said, I don't know if you noticed- Cadmus was a direct reaction to this idiocy.

> The variance I mentioned was in angle of stress

1) You also mentioned the extenders.
2) There's no reason to believe that a reader -not at all the same thing as a "viewer"- can't handle stress variance.

> paintbox

Once again: a typographic layout is not a tableau.

But: too much stress is anti-reading anyway.

> I thought you were a fan of the powers of serifs…

1) I don't think they do anything relevant to the baseline.
2) I'm also a fan of other things, which I like to balance.

One thing I'm not a fan of though is including/excluding
serifs/contrast/etc. just to achieve pretty, dumb shapes.

> aka WRBWWRM.

Sorry, not even close.
Nothing replaces a good understanding of the human reading "firmware".

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

> Once again: a typographic layout is not a tableau.

Damn those artsy modernists.

>That’s related to your “internal artistic consistency”, and
not related to what Greeks need.

You seem awfully sure of what people need. Yes, there is internal consistency in those flat-topped glyphs: do Greeks have a cultural aversion to consistency?

>People like their cultures.

..but not necessarily fossilized.

John Hudson's picture

But surely you will admit that there is also a pull from Greek typographers, especially in commercial publications, away from the traditional forms, just as there has been in the west.

That pull has been there for thirty years, and during that time there has been almost no original type design within traditional styles in Greece. The Greek Font Society has made some revivals of historical types, and there have been a few other examples of more cursive designs, but the majority of fonts for sale and seen in use are decidedly non-traditional and most often Latinised. What you seem to be characterising as a new dynamic is, in fact, three decades old and, in my opinion, quite tired.

If I had to identify a current 'pull' or dynamic, I would actually say that it is in the opposite direction, but not in a ideological way. Both within and without Greece there are now type designers who are engaging creatively with the traditional forms again, and in the process revisiting assumptions of the past few decades about e.g. what a sans serif Greek type should look like. I'm not sure what your point was in linking to Natasha Raissaki's thoughts on the question, but she seems to agree with me: 'In this case, the substitution of greek letters with latin ones is no way an evolution but rather a violation (and of course a remnant of the Linotype/Monotype diffusion of greek latinised typefaces back in the 80's -a mistake now partially ammended)' -- citing specifically the design and redesign of Helvetica Greek in her footnotes.

hrant's picture

> You seem awfully sure of what people need.

Sure? Never. More concerned about the user than my own artistry? I try.

> do Greeks have a cultural aversion to consistency?

No. But I do believe that humans actually have one to Modernism.
And consistency for your own sake? Only you need that.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

> I’m not sure what your point was in linking to Natasha Raissaki’s thoughts on the question,

She documents the "pull" away from traditional forms, and shows an interesting example of latinized text from a popular daily paper.

If the pendulum is now swinging away from indiscriminate modernism, with it's quick-fix latinism, towards a more historically sensitive form of progress, I'm all for that.

hrant's picture

> interesting example of latinized text

Some people think it's more sad and dumb than interesting.

> towards a more historically sensitive form of progress

To me that -generally- doesn't lead to progress at all (except by dumb luck).
And no, that and "indiscriminate modernism" are not the two only options.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>Some people think it’s more sad and dumb than interesting.

Some people are narrow-minded pedants.

John Hudson's picture

To me that -generally- doesn’t lead to progress at all (except by dumb luck).

There you go with your 'dumb luck' again. Nick specifically referred to 'a more historically sensitive form of progress'. I would prefer 'historically informed'. In either case, the emphasis is on knowledge over ignorance, and what one does with that knowledge -- how one combines it, for instance, with other information, intuitions and ideas in the design of new types -- is not a matter of dumb luck. No one is advocating a purely historical revival approach to Greek type design. The immediate programme of the Greek Font Society to date has been one of revival: but that should be seen in the context of digital font making as cultural preservation, not prescriptive for new designs. When designers like Natasha speak of a need for historical understanding as a corrective to a short-sighted and largely amnesiac view of Greek letters informed by the graphic design media of the past thirty years, I think they mean no more than that. I see it fundamentally as a call for the expansion of options in Greek type design and typography, and an opening up of discourse to include the past as an active agent.

hrant's picture

What I'm saying is simply that looking back can't originate ideas for moving forward. That said, historicity can certainly be tamed and combined with other things, and result in something progressive; but it's still not historicity doing the forward pushing.

> historical understanding as a corrective

That's fine, and needed.
But not "progress".

--

BTW, I have a smashing idea: I think you two Brits should talk
to each other a little bit about pedantry versus hooliganism.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Aren't they both Canadian?

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

What I’m saying is simply that looking back can’t originate ideas for moving forward.

Well, that's simply untrue, and you have the entire renaissance to prove it. Looking back is often the start of something new, especially when one has reached a dead end or experienced a decline. Progress often takes the form of synthesis, which may involve one or more 'historical' strands. I think your concept of progress is too narrow and dogmatic.

hrant's picture

I think you're seeing something in looking back that's not there. The ability of looking back to trigger progress is certainly there; but the real spark comes from the person doing the looking, in the present, looking forward.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Sometimes Grasshopper, when you see the past as the future,
you end up in the present :-)

ChrisL

hrant's picture

Haï.

--

More:
1) Append to my previous post: "And reviving things from the past is not progress"; at most it's merely corrective, and often it's plain regressive.
2) And two "negative" things the past is useful for: avoiding mistakes; and finding a precedent for an idea after you have it. For example I've wanted to make the "2" in OS nums ascending for a while now, and the other day I found a precedent (in Joanna) that I can now use to say "ha, you see, it's been done before, and by a master!" :-)

hhp

dezcom's picture

“ha, you see, it’s been done before, and by a master!”

Thank God! You have been able to save yourself from the jaws of inovation just when you thought you were trapped :-)

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

>Aren’t they both Canadian?

I've lived in Toronto since 1977, except for a recent year back in the UK, to which I may return in future, but when and for how long I don't know.
I became a Canadian citizen in 1990.
Canada and the UK allow dual citizenship, and I have both.
Is it like that with you Hrant, or did you have to choose between being a US citizen or an Armenian citizen?

Canadians aren't big on identifying themselves by hyphenation, with the exception of the old French/English distinction, which goes back to the country's roots. The term Anglo-Canadian usually means an English-speaking Canadian, as opposed to a French-speaking Quebecer or Acadian. So to call me an Anglo-Canadian would have nothing to do with where I was born, only with my mother tongue.

So you can consider me a Brit, if you think that one's native culture is what determines one's nationality/culture, or you can call me a Canadian, if you think that where one has lived one's adult life is what counts. But really, the distinction is specious, and shame on you Hrant for stereotyping and mocking John and I in such a manner.

hrant's picture

Pardon me, I failed to note that one is not allowed to refer to where Nick spent his formative childhood, because Nick is the best -and only- citizen of the Gloriously Pretty Ethereal Kingdom of Shinnistan. Verily, Nick is Shinnistan. And it is an island Luminous and Eternal.

> shame on you

Keep your shirt on. Unless it's a Performance Art thing.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

>Keep your shirt on. Unless it’s a Performance Art thing.

I am keeping my shirt on, which is why I'm refraining from making "clever' remarks about Armenians, Americans, or Armenian-Americans.

Nick Shinn's picture

>Pardon me, I failed to note that one is not allowed to refer to where Nick spent his formative childhood, because Nick is the best -and only- citizen of the Gloriously Pretty Ethereal Kingdom of Shinnistan. Verily, Nick is Shinnistan. And it is an island Luminous and Eternal.

F*** you too, asshole.

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