Emphasis on other scripts

Peroyomas's picture

On Latin script at least, emphasis is given in text with italic and bold. I know that those don't apply for all languages, yet it seems that limits on technology kind of forces the same thing on other scripts. What other means uses other scripts to indicate emphasis? How those translate to HTML, text processors and stuff? Which scripts actually uses bold and/or italic for it?

John Hudson's picture

[Note that the observation about italic emphasis for Latin script is specific to what Germans called antiqua typography. It isn't true for blackletter, nor numerous other styles of Latin script text production that have been popular at various times and places. L e t t e r s p a c i n g was the blackletter equivalent of italics emphasis.]

hrant's picture

Good topic.

In Armenian we can place a floating emphasis mark* on any [number of] vowels, so although the need for Italics is not obviated, the need for emphasizing by style-change nicely is. Our Bold situation though is the same as in Latin.

* Similarly we have floating elongation and question marks.

In Georgian (which is a monocameral script) emphasis is often implemented via a full-height style (reminiscent of all-caps in Latin).

BTW John, you forgot your favorite example: Ge'ez's use of red for emphasis.

hhp

HVB's picture

There are many ways to indicate emphasis in written text; typographically, verbally, and contextually, and maybe more. Verbally one can write such things as, " …he said, emphatically." Typographically, in addition to what you and John Hundson have mentioned, there's also underlining, all caps, change of font, surrounding the word or phrase with something like asterisks, isolation (putting lots of space above and below the material), etc. Contextually, some phraseologies can be stronger that others..

I'm not sure what you mean by "limits of technology" or why these would vary with the medium such as being different when encoded in HTML or printed with metal sorts or in skywriting.

Here's a technology supported possibility - using eye-tracking technology on an electronic reading device, when the reader reads a particular word, the audio shouts it out!

- Here

Theunis de Jong's picture

Cyrillic and Greek both use bold and italics. Greek italics is straightforward (I assume its forms are copied from the familiar Latin italics), but Cyrillic has a number of idiosyncrasies. An italic /t 'т', for example, looks like 'т' -- and it depends on your viewing software what that looks like for you!

The concept of "Italics" is hard, if not impossible, to translate to other scripts. Chinese, for example, only uses Bold and Light fonts, although I have seen my part of 'italicized' (through Word) and underlined Chinese text. Then again, I'm pretty sure the Chinese script has more subtleties to it than my inexperienced (round) eyes can discern.

Uppercase is another thing simply not applicable to non-European fonts. Uppercase Hebrew? Uppercase Arabic? Uppercase Mayan hieroglyphs? That's like asking for an 'uppercase' digit.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Craig, that's excellent. Shame on me for not thinking of thát one!

hrant's picture

I don't think asking for capitalization in monocameral scripts is outlandish (and I have seen a nice proposal for adding capitalization to Arabic).

Dutch: I did know about that (and it's just like Armenian) but I wonder how often it's used (and the fact that Theunis forgot might be telling).

hhp

eliason's picture

My experience with written Dutch is not all that extensive yet I knew about it. I don't think it's that rare actually.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

what we really really really need is a way to color our online texts so that people know WE ARE BEING SARCASTIC!!!

I thought Italics might work well for this, but you can't put your text in italics in Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, etc.

quadibloc's picture

People do use <sarcasm> and </sarcasm> tags when things like italics are not available.

But, yes, something of emoticon-level brevity would be preferable. ;) is sometimes used for similar purposes.

riccard0's picture

something of emoticon-level brevity

There is: http://thesnark.org/

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: BTW John, you forgot your favorite example: Ge'ez's use of red for emphasis.

Yes, that's one of the uses of red in Ge'ez. But the use that interests me more is the bicolour punctuation.
_____

re. Dutch use of acute accent: if applying acute to the ij digraph, remember that both letters take the accent. Brill asked me to include special handling for this in their new types.

John Hudson's picture

That's like asking for an 'uppercase' digit.

What's so strange about that?

hrant's picture

Of course he means grammatically. But even that's not so crazy: how many times has somebody wished to be able to somehow capitalize "3M", or "4×4" at the beginning of a sentence?

BTW John, that's pretty, but I do worry about that OS zero.

hhp

froo's picture

how many times has somebody wished to be able to somehow capitalize "3M", or "4×4" at the beginning of a sentence?

Well, I have to admit that half a year ago I did so a tens times in a single text.
It was an annual report, consisting so many paragraphs beginning with a digit, that the page image and reading comfort required this - quite unique - approach.

riccard0's picture

How do you achieved it, Marcin?

froo's picture

I found the initial lowercase digits disturbing, especially in places where a few short paragraphs met, or at the beginning of a paragraph at the top of a page. The report was written in some kind of a formal slang, so digits opened the sentences quite often, and there was no way and time to replace them. (I had to treat some numbers as words - happily there were mostly single digits [like "7 persons", "1st November"]). I think the approach was typographically justified, as a special exception.

froo's picture

ónze is merely an emphasized form of onze.
Similar solution was used (and may still be?) in the Russian textbooks, to mark important spelling issues: eg. "сорок сорок" ("forty magpies") written as "сорок сóрок", informs that it should be spelled "sorok sarok".

hrant's picture

I don't think I myself have ever seen an acute in Cyrillic text.

hhp

froo's picture

And that is why they were used!
I used a misleading shortcut: by "Russian" I meant "to learn the Russian language".

Peroyomas's picture

I'm not sure what you mean by "limits of technology" or why these would vary with the medium such as being different when encoded in HTML or printed with metal sorts or in skywriting.

I said that because I suspect that since most implementations only supports bold, italic and underline perhaps some script are more forced to use those instead of what is more appropriate and elaborate. There's still a lot dedicated support for Asian and Middle East languages of course, but I'm worried about the usage of HTML stuff that is supposed to give semantic emphasis (<em>, <strong>), yet some script may ignore that and only use them based on their default look. That's the very reason the <u> element was added back on HTML5, as it was used on Chinese for indicating proper names (the current definition of the element is pretty awkward trying to make it having a more general semantic meaning).

I believe that some Asian scripts empathize by placing dots over the characters. Not sure how is typed commonly, yet it can be archived with combining diacritics. A current CSS3 draft proposal has a property (with no kind of implementation at the time of this writing) that adds dots over characters, along other symbols by default I don't know if they are used or if have a different meaning (circle, double-circle, triangle, sesame).

I believe that Arabic empathize by placing an over-line in the text. It is supported in CSS, yet I don't remember much support in word processors.

Bendy's picture

>I don't think asking for capitalization in monocameral scripts is outlandish (and I have seen a nice proposal for adding capitalization to Arabic).

I'm not convinced it works too well in Thai, but it's getting rather common in things like movie titles and brand logotypes. Here's one for 'Caribbean Home', with the ko kon uppercased:

Maybe I dislike it because it's so badly executed.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Chinese, for example, only uses Bold and Light fonts, although I have seen my part of ‘italicized’ (through Word) and underlined Chinese text.

In the Chinese-language versions of the UN official documents Song is used for the body copy, the lowest-level headings, the text in the tables, etc.—wherever Times New Roman Regular is used in the English, French, Spanish and Russian language versions of the documents; Kai is used for emphasis in the body copy, for the lower-level headings, the table column heads, etc.,—as a substitute for Latin/Cyrillic italic; and Hei for the higher-level headings, the surnames in the signatures, the table totals, etc.—as a substitute for the boldface.

jcrippen's picture

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean have a traditional method of emphasis as well as Western-derived bold, oblique, and underlining. When text is typeset vertically a character can have a small dot or lachrymal brush stroke on the right side. This serves much the same purpose as italics for emphasis in modern Latin-alphabet typesetting. It’s not seen very much when text is typeset horizontally, however it’s still possible. For Japanese there’s the likelihood of clashing with ruby (furigana) annotations, so that the two don’t usually cooccur with the same text. The Wikipedia article on Japanese typographic symbols notes their use.

Another emphasis mark in Japanese is the 米印 komejirushi or ‘rice symbol’: ※. It’s named after its resemblance to the character meaning ‘rice’: 米. Although it’s often described as being like an asterisk, it’s actually more like a bullet because it doesn’t have a cross-reference function. Instead it appears before text that is supposed to be particularly important.

This is a short example paragraph. This short paragraph contains some ordinary text. The ordinary text in this paragraph is not terribly important.

※ This line of text is particularly important and the reader is advised to pay attention to it.

This paragraph is ordinary like the first example paragraph. Once again, this text is not deserving of any special emphasis.

I’m not sure if this is used in Chinese and Korean typesetting, but I think I’ve seen it at least in some Korean flyers around town in Vancouver and Honolulu.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

This discussion reminded me of a great op-ed in The Onion, ‘When I Put Something In Italics, I Mean It’ (Issue 36 · 29; August 23, 2000).

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