Language/Ligature identity (Not type specific)

Hallock's picture

A friend of mine from high school recently traveled through Spain and Germany and took this photo, wanting to know what it meant. They can't remember where they took it. I speak enough German to know that it's not. I would have run it through a translator to figure it out, but with the ligatures I truly don't know how it's spelled.

I figured someone here would be at least intrigued by it typographically.

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guifa's picture

It's not Spanish. If I had to guess I'd say Catalan or French though I'm sure I'll be quickly corrected.

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

Hallock's picture

I had not considered Catalan. I've shown this to some people on the university here and they can't figure it out either.

ebensorkin's picture

I tend to associate this kind of lettering style with Spanish & Catalan traditon. But it doesn't mean it could occur elsewhere. So far I haven't seen it much in a French context although I am far from an authority on that.

guifa's picture

Although this does remind me I need to start work on that super complex OpenType font I was going to do that would do all that kind of fancy layering automagically.

The problem is that while I'm quite sure the word at the bottom left is Esansuo (or Esansou) neither word has substantial hits on google. Ditto for some of the other words (presuming Spanish-like reading of the letters). It could be another language from the region.

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

hrant's picture

There's a plaque at the bottom-left. Hi-res version?
Wait, I'm seeing a "SAN" at the start of the first line.

> It could be another language from the region.

That must be it (since it's not Catalan). Maybe Basque?

BTW, did he go from Spain to Germany by air or ground?
Because southern France also has a bunch of funky languages.

Also, did you notice how the inscription gets progressively
worse as it goes down? Maybe it's proportional to the amount
of liquid that was left in the bottle...

hhp

guifa's picture

I looks romance based to me. But google only finds the sequence esansou/esansov/esansvo/esansuo in a French-language book, but it appears to me to be a name. I don't think it's basque, if the inscription is more than a few decades old it would have a pretty distinct style, and it just doesn't sound like it at all.

The last bit of the second line says "M. Farbvs Ãey...." Farbus is a French city near the German border. Interesting observation about the quality, but wwouldn't you expect that to cause thinner lines? It seems to get oddly thicker.

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

hrant's picture

> Farbus is a French city near the German border.

Ah, good detective work. If our friend's friend took ground transport that might be it. But what about that "SAN"? Maybe I'm seeing things.

> wouldn’t you expect that to cause thinner lines?

It depends on the drinker I guess. :-)

hhp

will powers's picture

Some of this can be explained. But I will say I am surprised that writers here more widely-travelled than I, and who have much greater skill with languages than I have not written about this.

For years the only European consulate of the island(s) nation of San Serriffe was in Farbus, France. This came about because of a lamentable mis-communication between San Serriffe’s then foreign minister, the then esteemed Sir Optima Gill, and the nation’s secretary of administration, Ms Joanna Felicity Ludlow. The root of the problem lies in the convoluted roots of the language of San Serriffe. Several earlier posts came close to this. Serriffers speak a pidgin based on Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, and a touch of Basque. To this is added a mix of trade languages (often pidgins themselves) of island nations that have at one time or another been neighbors to San Serriffe. It has over centuries become a very difficult lingo to comprehend, with variants popping up from block to block, even in the capital city, Bodoni. Cognates seem to abound, but often they lead down blind alleys.

In most dialects of Serriffian, a long journey is known as a “farbus.” Thus, Minister Gill told Ms Ludlow that the soon to be established consulate was going to be a farbus from home. She misunderstood, and established the consul in that French town. This photo shows the façade of the San Serriffian consulate in Farbus. That’s the easy part. From there I have worked many an hour to ferret out the rest of the text; to little avail.

Much of the difficulty comes from the odd feather-like features you see in the VoR and Vor ligatures. These are special features of the San Serriffian script. The exact linguistic function of these features has not yet come to light, but it is known that the general term for the feathered constructions is “Chelt.” It is believed they serve to indicate extensions (“Arials”), contractions (“Fedras”), or even contradictions (“Granjons”) of the base word; they can modify its beginning, middle, or end. They seem to be based on petroglyphs found in ancient settlements of the indigenous Flong peoples.

Also note the other ligatures: Mo, VR, Vs, MoB, Ri, No, as well as the A overline and the elevated o. These forms are collectively known as “Helvs.” The variously shaped punctuation marks are collectively known as “Poynters.” They can also indicate elisions, in which case they are known as “Binny,” which can be used as “one binny” or “many binny.”

So: to the inscription itself.
** The sequence “Mo.F. CV GATVoR” is tough. I believe it refers to the only true hero of San Serriffe, navigator Macron Fore-edge, who claimed Barcelona and “all lands attached thereto” for his home country when he cast up on that city’s shore in 1877. Formal Serriffian proclamations often start with a phrase something like “in the name of Macron the Navigator.”
** FVRRIONVoR may refer to an establishment that shoes horses, but which is possibly better rendered as “house of the outlanders”
** Guifa sees “FARBUS” in MoFARBVsÄEY. As far as I can tell, this means “Macron has established in the City of Farbus.”
** Hrant sees “SAN.” In fact, the word ESANSVor (as best I can render it without a San Serriffian font) means “Embassy of San Serriffe.”
** MoB.ARiNo[V?] is also a bit of a puzzle. Possibly it refers to the marines on guard at the consul, often referred to as “Macron’s Bairns.” Or does it refer to the tiny nation of San Marino, which at one point dismissed San Serriffe’s offer to establish a trade mission?

Thus, loosely:
“In the name of Macron the Navigator / the house of the foreigners in Farbus / the Embassy of San Serriffe / beware of our marines”

I do have a good photo of the small plaque Hrant asks about. But I refuse to post it, due to its scandalous content, which I believe would make the recent flare-up in Georgia & South Ossetia look like a temperance picnic were it revealed to the world. Sorry; we cannot risk letting loose the imperialistic claims of San Serriffe.

As far as the varying thickness of the lines: given the rigorous oddities of the Serriffian script, it is most likely that a native speaker / signwriter was brought to Farbus with the diplomatic corps to letter the building. This lettering style seems to have been developed after the visit of the first Venetian sailors to the islands. The earliest known name of this style is “Gripho.” All public lettering on the islands is done by an order of shirtless men known as “Downers.” No drinking is involved; these guys are deadly serious about their work.

I’m grateful to my friend Neue Wysiwyg, a native San Serriffian. He had sent me a different photo of this façade some years ago. Even he is not completely sure what it means.

Little is known of San Serriffe in the “larger” world. I suggest a web search for those who wish to know more. But beware: there is a lot of utterly bogus info about this lovely little nation on the web.

powers

hrant's picture

Too much! :->
Funniest thing I've read in a year.

hhp

guifa's picture

To think I thought someone had solved it when I scroleld down quickly and glanced over the detailed analysis. Then I actually read it. The mystery goes on (though now with a great laugh)...

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

charles ellertson's picture

Will,

*Wysiwyg* sounds like a Welsh name. But they don't travel much, so probably not.

will powers's picture

There was indeed some Welsh settlement on San Serriffe, Charles. Late in 1823, two groups of Welsh lead miners and their famiies left home to establish mines in southwest Wisconsin. They hoped eventually to establish a type foundry, with an agreement to cast some new-fangled faces recently introduced by the Calson foundry, ones that looked quite unusual. Evidence of their settlement remains today in the small village of New Diggings in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=New+Diggings&state=WI

But the other boat took a wrong turn and the miners ended up in San Serriffe. Oddly enough, they indeed found lead deposits and established a short-lived mine. They had a hard time reading the letters from their American cousins, so they ended up calling their town New Dwiggins. Nothing remains of this settlement today except a headstone that seems to carry a woman's name: Electra.

powers

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