A or a or

OfficialOfficeOf's picture

I'm curious about the origin of the different lowercase a's, as demonstrated in these examples. Does anyone know how we ended up with these two different shapes?

Tomi from Suomi's picture

Those two on the right are based on Roman Current writing (that Futura is just upright version of the Italic), and two-storey a on the left has its origins in Capitalis Rustica and Uncial writing from fourth to sixth centuries, and later Carolingian Minuscule in ninth century.

oldnick's picture

The "two-story" version (example the first) is more consistent with the Carolingian miniscule rendering of the letter a, while the "single-story" version (example the last) is consistent with everyday handwriting, at least as it was practiced under the Palmer method. The middle example extrapolates Palmer penmanship with sans-serif lettering.

Tomi from Suomi's picture

Is it miniscule or minuscule? And is it storey or story? :·a

Florian Hardwig's picture

Get your hands on a copy of Shapes for sounds by Timothy Donaldson. This book has some informative illustrations about the evolution of Latin letterforms.

Elias's picture

Oh, I always thought that the single story a (and g) in Futura derived from fraktur, but then again, since the structural basis of fraktur and italic is the same, this comment might just be a matter of semantics.

oldnick's picture

Is it miniscule or minuscule? And is it storey or story? :·a

My bad: when applied to lettering, it's minuscule vs. majuscule vs. miniscule (which simply means "tiny"). Storey or story depends on whether you use British or American spelling.

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