qu ligature, tell me why not?

dezcom's picture

My first question is--in all Latin script languages, is the Q always followed by a U?
If this is so, then my second question is--why is there not a single QU glyph?
My third question--why would we not at least have a qu ligature as a normal part of a font?
There is no hyphenation between q and u anyway so that does not figure in. Would it just be quaint or quizical to quiery quietly or do we need a poll?

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Tim, I understand what you're saying about open and closed glyph-combinations, but it seems to me that "ligature" should refer to the glyphs being joined.

Hrant, the notan created here in the t-y combination that uses the alternate "t" is obviously an important principle, but as the idea is a deliberate NOT joining, it just seems too much of a stretch to call it "ligature".

Linotype traditionally referred to two letters cast together as a "logotype", whether or not the letters involved were non-touching standard forms, or made into a special modified shape.

hrant's picture

> “ligature” should refer to the glyphs being joined.

Maybe you're right. But then we should find a term for the non-touching ones...
Or we could use "ligature" with a different qualifier for each kind; or maybe use
"ligature" to mean the touching ones, and "{something} ligature" for the nons.

> two letters cast together as a “logotype”

Or sometimes more than two even (but maybe not in Linotype's case).

In fact an entire printing technology venture was launched by one
of the founders of The Times newspaper involving casting as much
as possible on whole sorts. The point was to save costs during compo-
sition (and distribution), and I think it could have worked, except
then the printer's guild decided to change their charging scheme
from per-time or per-sort to per-letter... Sometimes, some people
make money off of inefficiency. :-/

And there was a similar effort in France, where it was called "polytypie":

If I remember correctly it was carried out (or at
least attempted) by one of the Didot brothers.

> or made into a special modified shape.

Yes, that's a good point.
On the other hand, one could say that the availability
of logotyping allowed letters to be more as a designer
would have liked (such as with the tail of the "Q"),
since potential damage to sorts was alleviated.

hhp

jlg4104's picture

Let's forget the term "ligature" for a moment and look at the various conditions relative to the individual glyph's nominal metrics, and controlling for tracking (i.e., track it tightly enough and they'll touch, so let's assume standard tracking):

1. Positioning changed
2. Shape(s) changed
3. Touching

Seems like there's no point belaboring the term "ligature," if we can come up with a vocabulary for all seven permutations:

1 alone: position changed but no change of shape, and not touching (i.e., "raw" kerning)

2 alone: could happen anywhere, but if shape alone is the condition, then spacing along the line may not really be at issue at all

3 alone: hard to imagine except in conditions of extremely tight tracking but no other alterations (or when kerning brings it about)

1&2: this might be like the "notan" example above-- no touching, but a stroke may be altered to improve balance

1&3: probably most examples of ligature

2&3: that wacky, contrived "st" ligature, perhaps, and perhaps fl and ffl, depending on tracking ("touching" without kerning would entail adding some stroke that wasn't there before, like the little arc that binds the lower-case s to the t in the st lig)

1, 2, & 3: all hell can break loose!

- Jay

Mel N. Collie's picture

"hat has an altered character to form fi but doesn’t join, doesn’t have an fi ligature"

I would. I mean, there are lots of fonts that have —fi glyphs—, and some that have —fi ligature glyphs—

hrant's picture

I'd say it depends on what's done to the constituents. If the "f" and "i" are just slapped together (which I've seen done, I think by Unger, or was it Zapf) and at the default spacing (probably simply because software expects something there) then that's not a ligature. But if the shape, or really even the spacing, of one or both has changed, then there's something going on, and it's useful to have a term for it; and since the thing that's going on is almost certainly related to the notan relationship (implying some "linking" in/of the white) then maybe an extension of the term "ligature" is best.

BTW, remember Legato (and its name!) which was designed to ligate the whites.

--------

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide:
http://www.armenian-genocide.org/genocidefaq.html

hhp

paul d hunt's picture

in the age of OpenType, i believe any alphabetic glyph composed of two or more alphabetic glyphs is considered a ligature. (Correct me if i'm wrong)

actually, the OpenType Spec defines a ligature as "A combination of glyphs that join to form a single glyph. It is up to the font designer to create the ligatures as he deems best for the font he is working with."

dezcom's picture

There isn't that much to be gained by having absolute supreme court votes on what is a lig and what is not. To me a ligature is any glyph the designer defines in the liga feature that replaces 2 or more other glyphs. Anything beyond that may be just a fun academic excursive for those who wish to indulge.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide

Canada recognizes the genocide:
http://www.armembassycanada.ca/embassy//genocide%20recognized.html

hrant's picture

Yes, thank you.
And it is such differences with the US that I hope
Canadians cherish more than I do on their behalf.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

I was talking with some friends about it today, and the consensus was that the EU should put pressure on Turkey re. this issue, as a condition of entry. I doubt if this is an original idea, but hopefully if it has surfaced in our neck of the woods it carries some weight elsewhere.

jlg4104's picture

To me a ligature is any glyph the designer defines in the liga feature that replaces 2 or more other glyphs. Anything beyond that may be just a fun academic excursive for those who wish to indulge.

Awww, c'mon! Indulge! Seriously, though. I only would want to play these "academic" games in order to clarify my own thinking about type. I agree that it's silly to try to establish, once-and-for-all, precisly what word X refers to and what it doesn't. But I see it the other way around-- the more we wonder about what it could refer to and maybe what it shouldn't, the more the we can question what we've long supposed the term to "mean," and thereby, the more we can question our own assumptions and understandings. That's where I'm coming from, anyway.

Some really dig this term "notan," for example. Well, what in the hell is it? If I say, "notan" is "not tan," somebody's gonna bark that's wrong. And then we get to wondering what the term is about, which leads to (we hope) more interesting ideas about type than we'd previously had.

timd's picture

I agree with Paul and Chris, that for most uses and for clarity it is probably more productive to call combinations of characters in a font – ligatures, however I suppose you could go on to subdivide them into positive and negative ligatures (my view is that by providing more and more subdivisions one actually works against clarity, more true of typeface classification).
Tim

dezcom's picture

"I only would want to play these “academic” games in order to clarify my own thinking about type."

I am not saying it is not a worthy discussion and by all means indulge if you will. My point was that the lay user would not benefit from the discussion as well as, in type development, it makes no sense to treat it differently. That being said, this forum is here for us type wackos who often press the nuance of meaning to extend our need to dig deeper. Your "Notan" example is more befitting the analysis though. It is a fuzzier and newer term which only exists for discussion of type design/readability issues. It is not something that can be picked up and held or specified by a user like a ligature. (Go to your InD type palette opentype fly-out menu and chose "notan" :-)

ChrisL

timd's picture

There have been threads on the nature of notan (linked in the wiki) and of course there's the wiki
http://typophile.com/wiki/Notan

3 alone: hard to imagine except in conditions of extremely tight tracking but no other alterations (or when kerning brings it about)
Just another reason to be careful using Helvetica

Tim

hrant's picture

> positive and negative ligatures

Ooooh, I like. Or what about Yin and Yang ligatures?
Maybe confusing. And what if a ligature has both? :-)

> It is a fuzzier and newer term which only exists
> for discussion of type design/readability issues.

?
The Japanese have been using it for ages! That's where I got it.

BTW, that wiki is great... except for the very first sentence! :-/

hhp

dezcom's picture

The Japanese have been using it for years but how long has it been used as a type term and by how many people? You may know all of them personally.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Just another reason to be careful using Helvetica

Yes, that is a "Helvetica" weakness, as is the r_n combination.
But any reasonably tightly fitted sans serif will have a weakness somewhere, because it is impossible to design every glyph to fit evenly with every other glyph.
If the ear of the "r" in Helvetica curled a bit more, or had a non-vertical termination, so that it fit better with the "t", that would create fit problems elsewhere.
Where a typeface's fit problems are concentrated determines its personality. Also, given the varying frequency of different character combinations in different languages, there you have a reason for linguistic personality of a typeface.

However, it should now be possible to employ contextual alternates in OT fonts to address fit-problem concentration. But not so obviously as with the long-eared "r" in Cheltenham Oldstyle. Why not have a Helvetica "r.alt" specifically for use before a "t"? -- very slightly altered in shape to avoid the present dubious almost-ligature.

This doesn't require massive class-substitutions, as there are hardly any accented versions of r and t.

I'm experimenting with this kind of feature in a sans serif I'm developing at the moment.

dezcom's picture

"Why not have a Helvetica “r.alt” specifically for use before a “t”?"

That is exactly what I did with my Align typeface.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

I actually think the original Cheltenham solution
is superb, both aesthetically and functionally.

hhp

timd's picture

Contextual alternates would be an improvement, although your point about linguistic frequency could mean a lot of extra work for you. Multiple personalities:)
Tim

Syndicate content Syndicate content