TDC and Maxim Zhukov delivered an outstanding Cyrillic Weekend

dezcom's picture

Cyrillic Weekend, with Maxim Zhukov as the instructor-moderator

For those of you with an interest in multi-script typeface design who could not attend the TDC program last weekend, you missed a fantastic opportunity. Maxim was at his finest presenting the nuances of Cyrillic type and helping the 18 who attended improve their own works in progress. The event started with a trip to the New York Public Library special collection of rare early books printed in Cyrillic. I’ll bet it was tough having the Czar as your art director—we got to see handwritten notes of instruction and critiques in the Czar’s own hand and some spectacular books.
After a day of Maxim’s presentations on Cyrillic forms and styles, there were critiques of numerous impressive works in progress by the participants.
James Montalbano, Gary Munch, and Carol Wahler put the event together helping Maxim bring it to life. Hats off to them all for making it a valuable learning experience and an enjoyable weekend as well!

The TDC will also bring Gerry Leonidas back in the Fall to present Greek Weekend, the second in the non-Latin the series.

http://www.tdc.org/events/education//non-latinweek-ends/2007nonlatleonid...

http://www.tdc.org/events/education/non-latinweek-ends/2007nonlatzhukovc...

http://www.tdc.org/

ChrisL

paul d hunt's picture

I was thinking of blogging this, but was recovering from the weekend today, but here are some funnies:

Adam Twardoch's answer to everything:
"It's French"

Maxim's question to be applied to everything:
"Is that a position or a screw-up?"

New type terms:
shnorkel
fire-breathing Э

david h's picture

> you missed a fantastic opportunity.

Why? What did you learn ?

=================

dezcom's picture

The nuances of Cyrillic. Follow the link for the synopsis of the class and think about attending the next one.

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

There was also the Ivan The Terrible story :-)

ChrisL

david h's picture

> There was also the Ivan The Terrible story :-)

and what about Аркадий Александрович Гайдамак ?
:)

> Follow the link for the synopsis......

Do you mean the half dead website? no thank you :)

=================

dezcom's picture

The Shnorkel

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

The Display Type Ball Terminal

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

It's "French!"

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Screwup

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

fire-breathing Э

ChrisL+

dezcom's picture

"Cyrillic Week-End

The increasing demand for multilingual typefaces has been boosted by the latest developments in the technologies of communications. The adoption of Unicode, and the industry-wide transition to OpenType font format has put the skills and the expertise of type designers to a new test. There is a growing expectation of their being able to develop typefaces with expanded glyph sets that cover not one but a number of scripts. Cyrillic is one of these scripts, used by large numbers of readers and writers and designers.

Features of Cyrillic will include :

* Cyrillic, its origins, its history and evolution, its structure, its peculiarities, its traps and pitfalls
* Character-by-character overview, comments and tips (character set: Windows 1251, plus Old Cyrillic, plus Serbian alternates)
* Cyrillic and Latin
* Cyrillic and Greek
* Cyrillic caps, l.c., and yes, s.c.
* Cyrillic roman and Cyrillic italic (and Cyrillic cursive?)
* Serbian Cyrillic and Bulgarian Cyrillic
* Old (pre-1918) Cyrillic
* [more?!]"

That link seems to work just fine.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

“Is that a position or a screw-up?”

Actually, it was "process or position", a political nuance by someone at the UN, which MZ took a step further, "no, it was a screw-up."

Serbian Cyrillic and Bulgarian Cyrillic

These are bizarre. The local alternate characters have the same Unicode values as "normal" Cyrillic. So it's like a Latin-using country saying all fonts must have a single-bowl a.

Thomas Phinney's picture

... or like China and Japan insisting on consistently different forms for the same Unicode characters. What, you say those differences predate Unicode by a millennium? Well, too bad, if Unicode says they're the same, the countries shouldn't be allowed to have different shapes that are country- or language-dependent!

Or maybe they should. :)

Cheers,

T

k.l.'s picture

Mr Lozos' masterpiece titled The Shnorkel -- does it illustrate the American version of "Schnorchel" [diving tool] or of "Schnörkel" [nice-but-void-of-function design element]?  ;-)

dezcom's picture

The "Schnorkel" was a term coined by Gary Munch during the seminar to address the outreaching arm of the V-like character in some Cyrillic languages. Surely it is the diving gear reference of something protruding out of the water but Gary's "Schn" emphasized pronunciation was a comic highlight of the weekend :-)

ChrisL

k.l.'s picture

:)

dezcom's picture

Uppercase Ball Terminal:

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Lowercase Ball Terminal:

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

We all got a kick out of the weekend, even those who had to drive to get there thought it was worth the green.

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Or maybe they should. :)

I don't know enough about the workings of the Unicode Consortium to be able to comment on the merit of its character-selection process, but from a typographic perspective the distinction between characters and glyphs, which is central to the OpenType premise, should be absolutely rigid. If not, the absurd situation arises - as with the Bulgarian and Serbian alternates - where the correct glyphs are only accessible via a Stylistic Set, or with a dedicated Bulgarian/Serbian font. The first is too obscure for genereral use, and the second makes a mockery of the one-font-for-all internationalist idealism of the enterprise.

dezcom's picture

Would these alternate glyphs also automatically replace the defaults when the language chosen was Bulgarian? I am assuming the opentype feature code would have this as part of location.

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Also, would a Bulgarian keyboard map to these glyphs automatically?

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Right. I forgot that alternate glyphs can be coded as a langauge feature.

**

I had been thinking about doing a German version of some fonts, with lowered cap umlauts. So this would be similar.

dezcom's picture

I assume you would just do locale to include only the languages which apply to your adjusted alternates.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

> the second makes a mockery of the one-font-for-all
> internationalist idealism of the enterprise.

Mock away!

hhp

dezcom's picture

Nick,
Did you open your CD from the weekend yet? or did you just burn it to your laptop there?

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

It's on my laptop.
I haven't looked at it yet.

Miguel Sousa's picture

> Also, would a Bulgarian keyboard map to these glyphs automatically?

No. With the keyboard you insert character codepoints, not glyph IDs. So the underlying text data for Russian, Bulgarian and Serbian is the same, the only difference is the glyph form.

To answer Nick, Chris is right; to implement these glyph-form differences in an OpenType font you'll have to use the 'locl' feature. Here's a code snippet that handles the lowercase 'be' (б U+0431 CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER BE):

feature locl {

script cyrl;
language SRB exclude_dflt; # Serbian
sub be by be.serb;

} locl;


'be' and 'be.serb'

The above assumes that the default form of 'be' is the one used for Russian (i.e. the default representation of the character U+0431 is the 6-like shape).
If, for example, the main market for your font was Serbia, then you could (hypothetically) revert the order and make the Serbian form the default one. But this would complicate the feature code, because you would then have to specify all the other languages that use Cyrillic and which prefer the 6-like shape. Here's what I mean:

feature locl {

script cyrl;
language RUS exclude_dflt; # Russian
lookup BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE {
sub be by be.russ;
# Notice the difference in this substitution.
# Also, glyph 'be.serb' was renamed to 'be', and 'be.russ' was 'be'.
} BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE;

language UKR exclude_dflt; # Ukrainian
lookup BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE;

language UZB exclude_dflt; # Uzbek
lookup BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE;

language MKD exclude_dflt; # Macedonian
lookup BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE;

language BEL exclude_dflt; # Belarussian
lookup BE_SIX_LIKE_SHAPE;

# And so on...
} locl;

dezcom's picture

Thanks Miguel, you'da man!

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Does anyone who was there remember the name of the Cyrillic bowl-shaped diacritic?

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Everywhere I looked called it a Breve, which it isn't. Thanks Miguel! I left my notes at home.

ChrisL

.00's picture

Chris,

Kratka is what I believe you are referring to

dezcom's picture

Thanks James. So far, I cannot find a unicode point for it like there is for the breve. Is there a numerical designation that I can use?

ChrisL

.00's picture

Maxim said that it was not a diacritic, but was part of the glyph. Therefore I doubt there will be a codepoint for it. In my workflow I just give it the glyph name Kratka and kratka and use it to build composites.

James

Miguel Sousa's picture

Unicode makes no distinction between the Cyrillic breve and the Latin breve. Therefore, the kratka will have to go into the font as an alternate of breve (U+02D8). During production time you can call the glyph whatever you prefer, but I suggest the final name be something like breve.cyr or uni02D8.cyr

dezcom's picture

Thanks Miguel and James. I wonder why they make a distinction between the languages. Greek has a tonos.

ChrisL

paul d hunt's picture

chris, i think this has to do with the fact that James pointed out above that the kratka is not considered a diacritic, but is actually part of the letter.

dezcom's picture

So is the ogonek though.

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

Greek has a tonos.

Well it does and it doesn't. The Greek diacritic letters with tonos and oxia both decompose to letter plus U+0301, which is the combining acute accent character. This means that bi-script fonts supporting combining mark characters need to have a Greek-specific ( feature) glyph for U+0301 and other general diacritics.

Similarly, in a combined Latin-Cyrillic font with combining mark support one would want a Cyrillic-specific 'breve' glyph.

Although the form of these characters as used in different scripts may vary, they are clearly the same character performing the same orthographic functions. The Greek tonos performs the same stress mark role as the acute in most European orthographies; the Greek oxia and varia were tone marks and correspond to the use of acute and grave in the orthographies of huge numbers of tonal languages in Africa and elsewhere; the Cyrillic kratka, like the Latin (and Greek) breve, indicates a short vowel sound.

John Hudson's picture

the kratka is not considered a diacritic, but is actually part of the letter

This is an intra-orthographic observation, i.e. in the writing of Russian the kratka is considered part of the letter and the most obvious evidence of this is that the long i vowel and the short i vowel (with kratka) are sorted separately in dictionaries. But one shouldn't presume that the kratka will always be considered 'part of the letter' in all orthographies. It is a mark that indicates a short vowel sound, and hence could easily be adapted as a combining diacritic in orthographies for other languages.

As a parallel, think of the Latin á. In French, this is considered a letter plus diacritic mark, and is sorted in dictionaries amid the letter A words. In Northern Sami, á is considered a separate letter and is sorted after A.

dezcom's picture

Thanks John! and welcome back!

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

Check out Adam's photos from the weekend on Flickr at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adamt/sets/72157594570229703

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Great pictures Adam, thanks for recording the event.

dezcom's picture

ChrisL

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Chris, great report and even greater images! Of course if you can pun in words, you can also pun in images! Mad props to you for making me laugh!

dezcom's picture

ChrisL

dezcom's picture

ChrisL

twardoch's picture

re: process, postion and screw-up.

Nick, there are two quotations:

1. Kofi Annan used to say about some political developments, "It’s not an event, it’s a process." Maxim referred to this quotation on several occasions.

2. While Maxim Zhukov worked as typographic coordinator at the United Nations in New York, his immediate boss at the UN was also Russian. At one time, When Maxim prepared a publication, something has gone wrong. His boss looked at him and asked: "Maxim Georgevich, is this a screw-up, or is this a position?" Maxim admitted that it was a screw-up.

When Gary Munch said "shnorkel", I interpreted that he meant the German "Schnörkel" (an embellishment, squiggle, flourish) rather than "Schnorchel"/snorkel. But I think it may have been just a merging of both terms.

Gary has reasonable knowledge of German but his rendition of Schnörkel sounded more "New York jiddish" than actual German. James Montalbano instantly liked the term, so did I. I think it should find its way into general typographic terminology.

Overall, I must compliment Maxim on his teaching skills. I was very impressed with the Cyrillic workshopm and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I do have good knowledge of Cyrillic, I did learn a lot. I found the formula very well chosen:

* Friday afternoon was a visit to the Slavic division of the New York Public Library, where we could look at some old Cyrillic type specimens and prints (though some participants, including myself, wished that we could spend more time looking at the specimens).

* Saturday was a full-day (9 to 5) lecture-style, when Maxim first talked about the development of the Cyrillic script (the pre-Petrine time, the reform by Peter the Great, the 19th century type founding, the Soviet period and the newest times), and then discussed the entire alphabet letter-by-letter (the Russian as well as some non-Russian letters): first uppercase, then upright lowercase, and finally italic lowercase. He also discussed the peculiarities of handwritten and script Cyrillic.

* Sunday was another full day, during which Maxim critiqued the Cyrillic type designs that the participants sent him before the workshop, all produced according to a standardized layout. For the first 3 or so participants, he spent some 30-40 minutes talking about each project. All the time, he actively asked for comments from other participants, and it was a collaborative critique rather than a one-way monologue. We spent a bit less time for each of the designs discussed later, but it was not a problem because the discussion about the first three or so designs already covered many common problems that appeared in designs that appeared later, so we didn’t actually feel that we needed to talk in great detail about every single alphabet. So in the discussion on the later designs, Maxim concentrated on the specific issues not discussed previously.

The visuals presented by Maxim were very good and comprehensive. He also presented a collection of books that people could find useful when studying Cyrillic (many of them were in Russian only).

I found Maxim’s timing perfect: he finished 4:58 on Saturday, and 4:45 on Sunday, just on time. The balance between serious content and lightweight anecdotes was just right. It was both informative and fun.

Even though the event was not the cheapest for me (flight from Berlin to New York, hotel and the participation fee), I felt that my money was extremely well spent. Even though I had known Maxim for seven or so years now, worked with him on several ATypI projects, and spoke to him during various conferences, it was the first time that I could enjoy his knowledge and experience for a longer period of time, several days. This was far better than the brief conversations we had previously. Thank you, Maxim!

I’d also like to thank the other participants. I felt it was an excellent group, very active and responsive, and it was fun seeing some of my good friends again, and taking part in it.

Adam

david h's picture

Thanks Adam.

[BTW, Chris -- that's what I meant by 'Why? What did you learn ?' ]

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