Creating a Merger of a Latin and a Non-Latin Font Style

gohebrew's picture

Many have tried and failed to merge Hebrew into English, or vice versa, on the font design level.

After all, a Semetic typeface stresses horizontal scribe-like strokes, and a European style typefac stresses vertical cut metal-like bars. So, how can they be merged successfully.

Gill tried and failed with each experimentation. Others also fell by the wayside.

Finally, Boruch Gorkin (Monotype licensor to MicroSoft and Apple licencees), a brilliant designer in Manhattan of Russian descent (see www,boruchgorkin.com) succeded in part to make a Hebrew version of Monotype's Ariel (weatch out for those Russians).

But Ariel was a sans serif with almost the same stroke widths horizontal and vertical. He based his design upon Tzvi Narkiss' popular Narkiss design, adjusting its stroke width a bit, and height to sit between the x-height of the English lowercase and the top of the English uppercase, and improved upon a bit of Narkiss' design.

But could anyone make a merger in a serif design for Hebrew with varying widths for the horizontal and vertical strokes, and match the overall color of the page in either language?

This blog shows how.

gohebrew's picture

Is it possible to place an English font text with vertical dominant bars, like in Minion, alongside a Hebrew font text with horizontal dominant strokes? Seems impossible, ayh?

Won't the Hebrew look radically different from the English, and vice versa, in both structure and relative black-white ratio per inch. The Hebrew letterforms will look darker, wider, shorter,compared to the English letterforms, besides the obvious design differences in orientation.

So, the differences are four-fold:
1. Hebrew is horizontal stroke dominant, while English is vertical stroke dominant;
2. Hebrew seems darker, while English seems balanced in color distribution;
3. Hebrew letterforms are proportionately wider in relationship to English letterforms;
4. Hebrew are proportionately shorter in relationship to English letterforms; see Microsoft's poor renditions of popular Hebrew typefaces, often matching by error the single case Hebrew to the lowercase of English. Clearly, a non-Hebrew reader did this, as to most every Hebrew reader, this looks too small for the type size, rendering it ridiculous like a clown wear long pants that are too short for his legs.

How can these 4 challenges be overcome?

gohebrew's picture

1. The orientation difference of horizontal dominance and vertical dominance.

Latin letterforms are printed, and therefore are individual units where the distinction between letters are its dominant vertical bars.

Non-Latim letterforms are scribed, and therefore are much like joined units where the joining-like effect are the dominant horizontal strokes.

If a Latin face has alternatively dominant horizontal strokes, it looks odd. Conversely, if a non-Latin face has alternatively dominant vertical strokes, it looks odd.

What are we gonna do?

Well, this is each group's nature. Change here is unnatural, even perverse.

The way to overcome the natural diversity is found in its bigger picture.

Somewhat like the saying about seeing the tree and missing the forest, here it's the very opposite: ignore the tree and see the forest.

What does this mean in our context?

Every configuration of text on a page creates a color, a ratio of black to white in a given space.

To merge English with Hebrew requires a similar and compatible, even complimentary, color ratio of black to white in a given space. The greatest completion of English with Hebrew is total submission, where each blends in together. While compability is only a merger which makes due.

gohebrew's picture

2. Hebrew seems darker, while English seems balanced in color distribution;

Since the eye is tricked by the different orientation, and Hebrew verticasl strokes are often heavier than English vertical bars, the result is that the Hebrew text seems darker than the English.

The way to overcome this is by adjusting the letterspacing, or better the side bars, slightly, so the Hebrew text seems lighter to look at, and better match the English.'

3. Hebrew letterforms are proportionately wider in relationship to English letterforms;

Hebrew is meant to be understood and concentrated upon. Therefore it's wider than English.

English is made to be read speedily. Therefore, it's narrower than Hebrew.

In general, as any Hebrew thinker knows, thinking in English is more superficial, because its letterforms are more narrow. Thinking in Hebrew is much deeper and meaningful, because its letterforms are wider. Broadmindedness versus shallowness. This is why Israeli intelligence supercedes even American intelligence.

Arabic and Iranian etc. thinking and intelligence will be discussed later.

To compensate for this awkward sense when English and Hebrew is combined in the same sentence or paragraph etc., and the way to merge English and Hebrew successfully, is to raise the height of the Hebrew letters to a little below the height of the English uppercase, and well above the height of the English lowercase.

In general, the height and the inter-letterspacing is adjusted carefully to create the illusion of compatibility or completion between the languages.

gohebrew's picture

4. Hebrew are proportionately shorter in relationship to English letterforms

As above in #3.

There is another factor which I am not listing. Each language's text or book font must be silent, not show-offish, and conducive to blending.

For example, Gorkin's version of Narkiss is blendable. Frank's modification of Vilna is blendable. Even Itamar David's very popular David blends in with a subtle falair.

Eliyahu Koren's clown-like Koren is not a good text typeface, because it's most every letter shouts "look at me; I'm a star". Don't get me wrong it's a beautiful design as display or decorative, but it's not for text.

Eliyahu Koren typeset the Bible and the Jewish prayerbook with the Koren typeface for decades. It became a default standard book font, but it's is really not at all. Study its design and just admit it.

gohebrew's picture

There is another avenue to make the English letters match the Hebrew letters.

If the type design matches the English horizontal stroke width to the Hebrew vertical stroke width, then yet another dynamic is created, reducing the need for extra inner-letterspacing. Less increasing of the inner-letterspacing is necessary, because the overall color of the Hebrew is much less darker than the overall color of the English.

The following pages cite visual demonstrations of the above discussed concepts.

John Hudson's picture

My view on this is that when the normative forms of two different scripts rely on distinct stroke contrast patterns, one must seek to harmonise the overall impact of the type on the page, rather than do violence to either script trying to distort it to match the other. Harmonising the weights of the two scripts so that they produce a similar texture on the page is not as simple as harmonising stroke weights, regardless of contrast patterns, because one needs to take into account also the characteristic shapes and letter densities of the two scripts. In this respect, Hebrew and Latin types are in some ways easier to harmonise than Latin and scripts with greater density, e.g. Korean or Chinese.

I've noticed that in Israeli typography, it is common for the Hebrew letters to correspond to the x-height of a matched Latin design. Whereas in European scholarly publishing it is usual for the Hebrew letters to stand taller, between the Latin x-height and cap-height. Either approach can be made to work if compensations are made in other ways for the stroke weight and density.

Jongseong's picture

In this respect, Hebrew and Latin types are in some ways easier to harmonise than Latin and scripts with greater density, e.g. Korean or Chinese.

Hear, hear. I recall seeing a publication (a calendar?) featuring Korean and Arabic (or Kurdish in the Arabic script; I don't remember) side by side. When you have two scripts that are so different in overall structure let alone stroke contrast patterns, you just have to give up and hope that the differences in texture on the page for the two scripts are not too jarring.

gohebrew's picture

John, this is incorrect.

I’ve noticed that in Israeli typography, it is common for the Hebrew letters to correspond to the x-height of a matched Latin design.

Certain Hebrew fonts made by some Americans etc., who knew not Hebrew, did this mistakenly. People like you then wrongly think, G-d has spoken. By doing so, Hebrew is way too small at a readable point size, like the English. Rather, the Hebrew needs to be higher, but not up to the height of the English uppercase, which makes the Hebrew appear way too big.

gohebrew's picture

Either approach can be made to work.

I disagree.

Scott-Martin, what do you say?

Raphael, what do you say?

raphaelfreeman's picture

Well in regards to Koren, I couldn't disagree more (but then again, I'm kind of biased).

I think you, as an American, are looking at Hebrew typefaces as an American. As a religious Jew, you are looking at the Hebrew typeface as a religious text.

I do too. It's a problem. I can look at a book typeset in an English font and immediately tell you if it looks good or not, and why. In Hebrew, since I was brought up in the UK, I cannot do this to the same extent.

In Israel, amongst Israelis, Koren is considered to be one of the most legible and beautiful Hebrew typefaces in the world. However, foreigners, used to Vilna and the like from their old prayer books, find it unusual.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this over the next 30 years as the Koren Siddur is now being adopted in American Jewish congregations.

brianskywalker's picture

> Either approach can be made to work.

I both agree and disagree. Imo it depends on the situation. The most correct approach for most situations is to, as Israel pointed out, align the Hebrew body height somewhere between the Latin cap- and x-height. This works best with Latin upper- & lowercase. With the somewhat rare, but feasible, lowercase-only situation, then the Hebrew body height can be correctly scaled to x-height. With all-cap Latin, the Hebrew body height should be scaled to cap-height.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael:

>> In Israel, amongst Israelis, Koren is considered to be one of the most legible and beautiful Hebrew typefaces in the world. However, foreigners, used to Vilna and the like from their old prayer books, find it unusual.

With all dues respect to Eliyahu Koren zal's greatness as a designer, and Raphael's trailblazing work as a typesetter, this statement is simply untrue and stems from Raphael's commercial interests.

There are a few Hebrew designs, FrankReuhl, Vilna, Hadasa, David, and Narkis, which excel in popularity in Israel, and Koren follows far behind.

Koren is based upon an ancient Ashkenazic design which preceded the inventions of the printing presses in various parts of the world. Eliyahu Koren zal hacked this design, did not credit its source, and popularized it in the famous Koren Bible. It is not legible, way too narrow, and has too much space between the nikud and the letters, due to the severe limitations of the typesetting machinery of Koren's day.

Freeman wants to claim Koren's defects are advantages. I want to sell you Brooklyn Bridge.

brianskywalker's picture

An interesting disagreement. I wish I could have another's opinion of this. Koren looks to me like it should be very legible, because of the variation in the design. But I can't speak or read Hebrew; I only know a few words.

I am making a Hebrew typeface and trying to design it to work well with my Neuton Latin. My main reference has been Hadassa, Ezra SIL, and Koren. I'm wondering if I should reconsider this.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, your personal attacks are revolting. What happened to judging people in a favorable light (l'chaf zechut)?

Personally, I really admire the Koren Siddur face. The Bible face not as much. Zvi Narkis's Hebrew typefaces are very worthy of study.

david h's picture

Moshe Spitzer:
"The Sephardic Koren, designed by Eliyahu Korngold-Koren...Its bold version has been used with great success for the printing of a Hebrew Bible (Koren Publishers, Jerusalem), which was issued in three different formats...in all three sizes the page is pleasing to the eye and very legible."

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

What personal attack?

Wide letters are legible is Hebrew with non-sharp edges. Ask any scribe.

It's not personal. Raphael is my friend, who I admire and think highly of as a person, and an artist, like you.

Are you reading into my words, known in modern psychology as projection, which the holy Baal Shem Tov discussed long before there was a discipline called modern psychology?

gohebrew's picture

David,

Spitzers word resonate correct criticism.

The Bible is a special work, treated as holy by both Jew and gentile. It deserves a special font.

Koren though fails where the eyes concentrates, like in a siddur, a text book of novellae Torah, or an even a lowly newspaper.

Hence,, it was never used that way, until Koren Publishing peddling the OU. In 25 to 50 years, it will disappear, and be replaced with Scott-Martin Kesofsky's Milon, Shlomo, or New Romm Vilna.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, you have said that Raphael said untrue things because of commercial interests. And that Koren "hacked his design and did not credit its source." On what planet are these not personal attacks?

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

Again, I like Raphael, and respect him very much. Eliyahu Koren zal was a world class typographer.

But I call a spade a spade.

A mensch might be politically correct, but isn't being a brown nose?

Narkiss' design originated in the concentration camps. It was never credited. Why?
Koren's famous design appeared in old manuscripts. It was never credited. Why?
Freeman peedles the Koren design as if G-d drew it. It was never used before except for the Bible, and a few ads. What changed besides his hype?

brianskywalker's picture

It may be that the inspiration for these designs was either not considered, or not considered important because it was found on old manuscripts. Of course, I would think being used on old manuscripts would be a selling point, so it's really a tough call.

gohebrew's picture

There is a lesson found in the Talmud's Chapters of our Fathers drawn from Queen Esther's attributing something to her uncle Rabbi Mordechai the Binyominite. The Talmud says such humble action causes to hasten the the Final Redemption.

Some people can not attribute much or even anything to another, fearing that they will receive less honor than if people thought that they innovated that thing.

Here too, Narkiss and Koren failed to attribute their source of inspiration, fearing that they would not be regarded as creating these designs but merely reviving them.

Just call a spade a spade.

William Berkson's picture

>call a spade a spade.

Where is that in the Talmud? It's not. Rather: being rude under the excuse of honesty is a violation of Jewish ethics. You are not permitted to defame others, even if it's true—not that I concede that any of your accusations of others are true. When you say things that disparage others, it is not permitted, even if true, as Maimonides makes very clear.

While there are permitted exceptions, your personal attacks here are gratuitous; they are stinking up the forum, and discouraging others from participating. Please stop.

gohebrew's picture

David,

I disagree with Moshe Spitzer with all due respect.

Koren is not a design with major Sephardic-like roots. It is an Ashkenazic design that has certain Sephardic-like influences.

We see this in John Hudson's Adobe Hebrew - a design composed of different influences. A bastard design if you will. :)

Why is this unprofessiional scholar correct, and he erred?

1) If you survey most Hebrew type designs, you will find certain common elements among designs of Sephardic origin, and those of Ashkenazic origin. Koren falls into former category.

2) I saw an ancient document hand scribed in the Koren lettering design, long before there was a printing press and Eliyahu Koren's early ancestors lived, but long after Elijah (Eliyahu in Hebrew) the prophet ascended alive to heaven (5 person have done so until now).

Who is Moshe anyway, a chiloni dib?

brianskywalker's picture

Anyone have an example of this ancient document that influenced Koren's design? I'd like to see it.

gohebrew's picture

I saw one is a book I looked at in the great type library in Rochester, NY at RIT.

Regretfully, I didn't make a copy of it and other important findings. I intend to return there in a few years.

I am researching the origins of the Romm Vilna typeface design to document Goudy's account.

Does any one know any leads?

brianskywalker's picture

I don't know any leads on that....

Do you know the name of that book at RIT?

gohebrew's picture

no, i looked at a bunch of them. magazines too. they a lot of stuff. a lot. shelves and shelves/
the librarian picked the books.
he is now head of whole library

scott knows his name.
a gentile from crown height. a chabad gentile. :)

everything is hasgacha elyona

gohebrew's picture

I will post b"n a sample of GH New Crown very, which is meant to be used with Monotype's New Times Roman, dedicated to the great graphic artist, Boruch Gorkin.

Both side by side Biblical Hebrew text with appear, as well as mixed prayerbook text.

Created in MS Volt in a new project written by me, inspired by John Hudson. This Volt project has no bugs, John.

I'm working on the automatic shva, but the sample will have the manual shvah.

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

> Israel, you have said that Raphael said untrue things because of commercial interests. And that Koren "hacked his design and did not credit its source." On what planet are these not personal attacks?

So did Brian, but you were quiet. It seems you treat the frum different. This is hypocracy and self-hatred.

It is a documented fact. Koren took a design centuries old and attributed to himself. Is that a hack or not, Bill?

He of course was a great typographer, but let's not allude ourselves. Narkiss was greater. Friedlaender was even greater. David was even greater.

And Scott might become even greater if his dreams come true. Shlomo is many weights. A serif set. A new Romm Vilna. A sans set. Other creations. David did an amazing portfolio. If Scott does another, he'll be greater.

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

>call a spade a spade.

Where is that in the Talmud? It's not. Rather: being rude under the excuse of honesty is a violation of Jewish ethics. You are not permitted to defame others, even if it's true—not that I concede that any of your accusations of others are true. When you say things that disparage others, it is not permitted, even if true, as Maimonides makes very clear.

While there are permitted exceptions, your personal attacks here are gratuitous; they are stinking up the forum, and discouraging others from participating. Please stop.

===

Modeh al haemes. Do not speal sheker.

Rude is a relative social issue. To Nazi society, rude was being Jewish.

Defame others, no. If that person did something sickening, you are obligated to warn others. Obligated. But in Reform ediquette and political corrective niceness, we live and let live. Guy by gay.

Rambam is melamed zchus on a shomer shabbos shomer kashrus, as ruled in the Codes of Jewish law. He respected halacha and believed 100% in Torah. You believe in what you think is common sense, sechel and reforming the Creator to be in your image.

I'll stop after you stop. It's a two-way street. Remember, you threw the first stone. And I am not a pacifist, and don't turn my other cheek.

William Berkson's picture

>you threw the first stone

You're saying that you were obliged to throw stones at all these other designers, and that you didn't throw stones at all. Rather it was I, by complaining, who threw stones. That's all a bundle of contradictions, but I'm done trying to reason with you.

I just wish you'd stick to type, and if you feel you have any warning to do about people, do it privately.

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

>> ...You're saying that you were obliged to throw stones at all these other designers, and that you didn't throw stones at all. ...

No, just at your pretty face!

If someone, no matter how precious, throws a stone at me, I pick it up and lobbat it back at him.

My reform rabbi, Rabbi Izzy K. taught me that.

As it says in the 10 and a half commandments:

10.5) Thou shalt throw stones

Doesn't it, David?

gohebrew's picture

Bill,

>> I just wish you'd stick to type, and if you feel you have any warning to do about people, do it privately.

As Teddy R. said: Speak gently, but carry a big stick, and a bag of rocks.

brianskywalker's picture

Does anyone know the name of the head librarian at RIT?

gohebrew's picture

Scott-Martin Kesofsky know him personally.

Plus he knows the library in France which has the world's largest collection of type specimens, followed by RIT.

brianskywalker's picture

Yes; although I can't seem to locate his contact information, or any of the types he designed... Rather frustrating.

brianskywalker's picture

Thank you.

gohebrew's picture

bill,

is google jewish?
some say he's conservative...uhh...she

shabbat shalom!

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

We should all be grateful to "goHebrew" for keeping this forum lively!
Outrage after outrage...
Mike

gohebrew's picture

Lively?

I once knew a deadbeat from the early 50s.

Alas, now he's dead.

Unlike Bin Laden, who former President George W. Bush
said that wanted 'dead or alive',

this deadbeat was wanted only alive.

raphaelfreeman's picture

gohebrew: I'm a little confused. First you spend a few days telling me that you created your Crown font from a document from RIT that had been done before the age of the printing press and then you remember that actually it was from a book on typefaces that you bought a flea market in Israel.

I would love to know which one it was and if it's the latter (which is what you told me a few years ago on the telephone), then would you mind scanning in the page because it's been talked so much about that I think everyone on this forum would love to see.

I posted on the Microsoft thread the prototype version of Koren that was done by hand on the book of Jonah. I have taken the liberty of reposting here too. I think that this demonstrates the evolution from that to the currect Koren (not Koreen or Keren or Crown versions of the) font.

I would be curious to see if this image in any way can been seen as an evolution from your source and if so, it would be amazing to see that you skipped a step in total isolation and arrived at a very similar result.

raphaelfreeman's picture

I reset the first two lines of the same text in InDesign CS5 ME in Koren:

gohebrew's picture

This is improved, but...

the diacritics are too low, Koren Bible style
the meteg is too close to the nikkud
-it is higher than the nikkud
- some taamim are lower while others are at the nikkud's height level

much is either koren bible style or due to the very large nikkud
most hebrew fonts do not have such large nikkud
for the koren bible it worked, but for most jobs it doesn't

i recall now that for crown i cut apart the sample
and assemble different letters on a post board
like rashi and romm vilna
i lacked different crown letters, not many
i enlargenned the poster board on a stat machine, not a copy machine
this produces great quality
i supplemented the missing letters from another source
perhaps the source for the bold
i never had a light
the bold source was giant
i no longer have it
i never completed crown for two decades
i rotated some of the letters
cleaned up the scans
copyrighted a very early version
only added nikkud from henri designed by john hudson (the nikkud etc)
much better than in koren
eliyahu lifted the nikkud from another font
they simply don't match

raphael, you are reviving koren
this is a great thing
before kp you wouldn't have bragged about it so much

quadibloc's picture

On the subject of merging Hebrew and English...

After Charlemagne originated the notion of using the Latin alphabet with capital letters based on Roman monumental script, and lowercase letters based on the uncial, this practice was spread to the Greek language - and Armenian and Cyrillic also have upper and lower case.

I came across this article a while back,

http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2006/02/hebrew-alphabet-reform_13.html

about a bizarre proposal to give Hebrew a lower case. I would think that there's a much simpler way to make a Hebrew with a lower case, without having to redraw the letters in a foreign style, if anyone wanted it.

Just make the conventional square script the upper case, and the ancient forms of the letters - in the Paleo Mesha style, where the ascenders and descenders are pronounced - the lowercase!

There was even Eric Gill's odd attempt at making Hebrew look more like the Latin alphabet. While giving Gujarati that treatment might produce interesting results, and this is no worse than many other cute display faces, the serifs point the wrong way.

Ah, and here's another interesting article:

http://stbride.org/friends/conference/badtype/aleph-x.html

raphaelfreeman's picture

This isn't a "revival" of Koren. This is Koren!

I wanted to post the Koren lines to demonstrate the evolution of Koren's prototype to his final font. I'm not posting to get your opinion on the font. I'm showing you how he arrived at this font.

You, on the other hand, keep saying how your Crown is authentic, it was done based on some piece of paper that has disappeared.

That is all.

In the digitisation process we were not looking to improve or change the Koren font. It is 100% the same. When we print from the new font, you can't tell the difference from text being set from lead and from opentype. It's critical for us to have that ability.

gohebrew's picture

A revival means just like the real thing.

A rendition or version is an interpretation.

gohebrew's picture

No the source of the bold disappeared.
Actually, it wasn't a piece of paper. It was a page of a book, torn is into many pieces.

Ask Tzvika, he likely has the book too. It made for guys like us.

The source of the book form is in RIT.

gohebrew's picture

Post the transgression that Koren drew. Why did you change your mind?
Crown look like the beginning versions, and Koren looks like end of the line.

If it does, then my argument gets stronger.

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