Archive through November 29, 2001

Joe Pemberton's picture

Ligatures are possibly the funnest part of
setting type.

Anyway, I'm trying to flesh out FontClaire and
I've been inspired again by "Mrs Eaves" robust
set of ligatures.

What other faces have great ligature sets?

//joe

hrant's picture

Joe, Mrs Eaves has some great ligs, but don't make the same mistake of going overboard: avoid monstrosities like that italic "py" at all costs...

Classica is a supreme example of how to do it, and I'd also mention Carter's Mantinia.

BTW, when directed properly, the design/use of ligs can also improve functionality, not just aesthetics.

hhp

hrant's picture

About the "functionality" bit: You might consider letter pairs/sequences which are frequent, not just ligation-candidates based on looks/structure.

The 30 most frequent letter pairs in English are:
th he an in er re es on ea ti
at st en nd or to nt ed is ar
ou te of it ha se et al ri ng

The 20 in German:
en er ch de ge ei ei in ne nd
be el te un st di no ue se au

etc.

hhp

peterbruhn's picture

There are some letter combinations that are more common in the swedish language, like:

sk
sch
ch
sj
fj
ck
tj
tt
gg
ll
nn
tt
pp
mm

and probably more...

also I would imagine in
finnish = kk
dutch = oo


Is there similar combinations in other languages
that never or seldom appear in "english/american" ligature sets?

/peter

peterbruhn's picture

That's interesting Hrant,
do you know any url where one
could find more letter pairs for
other languages?

I guess if one would make a different ligature set
for different languages then English, German, Spanish and French would be the first choices?


/peter

hrant's picture

Peter, is that list off the top of your head? If so, it's still helpful, thanks, but could you possibly find something official/methodical for Swedish? That would be great. And even more important than pairs would be word frequencies. All my own data comes from cryptographic and linguistic analysis, which I have access to thanks to UCLA. Except for the Polish data which I can thank Adam Twardoch for. I've been wanting to put it all up on my site, but...

BTW, here's an idea: Could we have some kind of repository here on Typophile, where people submit frequency lists (with info about the source)? That would be killer. I'd contribute whatever I had (as long as I find the time to type it in... Or maybe I can do OCR).

Ligature Style:
The difference comes from the fact that Thierry is an accomplished calligrapher. And although I'm not a big fan of calligraphy in type design, if tempered it results in some great ligatures, that's for sure. Yeah, some of them are pretty crazy, but remember that you never *have* to use a given ligature, but in any case each one is aesthetically superb. If you look at the "AA" in Mrs Eaves, for example, you can see it doesn't really "sit" very well. In terms of functionality, however, we could argue about which is better: constructed or painted ligatures. And of course that applies to type in general. I happen to think paint is for walls.

Linguistic Hierarchy:
In terms of Latinate writing systems, the main ones would be, in ~order: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, and after that I wouldn't try to guess. But note that you might consider this order to be somewhat moot, because, for example: there's less piracy in Germany than in general; on the web Dutch has a disproportionate presence; and other factors.

BTW, concerning "customizing" for languages, more important than ligatures would be spacing/kerning: it can have a very large effect on setting. For example, round-round shape-pairs have a very different frequency in English and French. And in English the word "the" is more common than fully *half* the letters of the alphabet, whereas since it's not as common in Spanish, you might sacrifice its spacing in favor of the "ate" string, for example.

hhp

hrant's picture

OK, what if we start with this?:

The 100 most frequent words in English:

the of and to a in that is was he for it with as his on be at by I this had not are but from or have an they which one you were her all she there would their we him been has when who will more no if out so said what up its about into than them can only other new some could time these two may then do first any my now such like our over man me even most made after also did many before must through back years where much your way well down

Source: "Computational analysis of present-day American English", by Kucera and Francis, 1967.
Note: This is a "standard text" referred to by other linguistic analyses, like "Word frequencies in British and American English", Hofland and Johansson, 1982 - a very interesting comparative work.

And here's my offer:
For a given week where anybody else adds something, I'll add something else the following Monday. And if we don't want to limit this to "hard" data, we can just let people submit anything (like Peter's [assumedly] informal list), as long as declaring the "source" is taken seriously.

hhp

beejay's picture

mmm, ligatures: Index by Josh Darden and Tim Glaser, specifically the Typographer's Set.

Nice.

Jared, did you make Josh Darden's acquaintance while working with Hoefler? His body of work is extraordinary.

For those who haven't seen it, check out www.scanjam.com to see more of Darden's work. Index can be seen at www.garagefonts.com.

bj

peterbruhn's picture

Hrant,

they where just from the top of my head. I will look & see if I can find actual fact on the subject.

And how could I forget Index....

/peter

Stephen Coles's picture

I met Josh Darden at TypeCon in July. We sat in
the corner and watched the rest of the group
drink their beers. He is smart and very observant
- qualities that obviously contribute to his
excellent work. I'm told there is more to come.

Stephen

hrant's picture

Joshua's work is killer.
But Stephen, you don't drink? I think we should stop seeing each other.

hhp

hrant's picture

Speaking of Mrs Eaves, check out this new (?) design by The Foundry:
http://www.thefoundrystudio.co.uk/wilson_book.html

To me it seems less poetic but more usable.

hhp

Stephen Coles's picture

Hrant,

Wilson's been around for a couple years.

I tried to come up with a snappy retort to your
drinking inquiry, but I couldn't conjure anything
worthy of posting.

Stephen

hrant's picture

Stephen, please don't bother. It's already too late for you
and me - don't make it harder. Too much hasn't happened.

hhp

Stephen Coles's picture

As los latinos would say: jajaja.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Peter and Hrant, those character
combinations are a valuable bit of information.
Thanks.

Mrs Eaves and Classica seem to take two
different approaches. Mrs Eaves tends to
connect characters while Classica likes to
share strokes... (I'm speaking in broad
generalities). Does the sharing of strokes
help or hinder readability? That lowercase "ir"
combo seems like a stretch.

Mrs Eaves
Mrs Eaves ligature

Classica
Classica


//joe

Jared Benson's picture

Great idea, Hrant. As I've followed this thread, I was thinking the very same thing. Let's archive some of this stuff so others can refer to it.

jb

Joe Pemberton's picture

Wow. Index is great. Like safflower handcuffs*.
A great example of ligatures appropriately
applied to a sans serif.

It seems like most sans just wouldn't seem
appropriate with the swashy, ornamentalism
that ligatures create. (Aside from the
necessary ff, ffi, ffl, etc.)

//joe

* Just practicing a ligature-capable vocabulary.

peterbruhn's picture

Joe,
check out Classica by Thierry Puyfoulhoux

http://www.presencetypo.com/Pages-html/Intclas.html

I never seen so many ligatures & swashes, it's like Christmas time in Ligatureworld :)

/peter

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