"Judenschrift"

hrant's picture

So what should one make of this lettering at Berlin's Jewish Hospital,


especially in light of things like this?
http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/artwork/7/1/4/8/2/71482/star.juden-p...

hhp

5star's picture

Well, that was an interesting read! I just read up on Schabacher Judenschrift. Krazy stuff indeed. So I guess that lettering should Fraktur?

So why is there a separate hospital for Jews anyways?

n.

HVB's picture

So why is there a separate hospital for Jews anyways?

Not FOR Jews, but BY Jews. Built in 1914 for treatment of anybody in need.
Just as St. Lukes, Mount Sinai, Valley Presbyterian, and the UCLA Medical center are for everybody.

More information, and and image with more characters in the same mode, at:
http://www.juedisches-krankenhaus.de/en/geschichte.html

- Herb

5star's picture

Hey thanks Herb. Those letters look like a combo of Hebrew and Latin letter shapes, of course I have no idea what I'm talking about.

n.

HVB's picture

I put them into the general category of 'faux Hebrew'

Birdseeding's picture

But they're also sort of Jugendstil faux Hebrew. A nice combo I think. :)

quadibloc's picture

I have noted in discussions here about Papyrus that, these days, typefaces in one language that imitate the look of a different script are unfashionable. And, indeed, that is because of "things like this".

However, as "foreign-look" faces go, the one in the photograph is at least understated, and I presume it had been chosen (long ago) by Jews themselves.

So I don't see a reason to condemn or criticize people for celebrating their own culture simply because they've done so in a way that doesn't sit well with our current sensitivities. I would advise people against the use of foreign-look faces in current projects, but that is pragmatic advice - perhaps someday it will be possible to again draw the distinction between faces in poor taste and those which, like the one used on that hospital, which are sufficiently understated to be a nod to another script system rather than tending to give the appearance of being a mockery of it.

But, more importantly, I think it's very important to draw the distinction between "currently unfashionable" and "inherently evil"... even when one is advising people to avoid the former, and even when one recognizes the reasons behind something having the former status as legitimate.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

I think it's very important to draw the distinction between “currently unfashionable” and “inherently evil”...

Do you consider Talib “currently unfashionable” or “inherently evil”? Just curious…

quadibloc's picture

Talib isn't bad as a typeface. It seems to be a serious and well-designed typeface, whereas most faux-Chinese, faux-Arabic, faux-Hebrew and so on faces have an amateurish look about them - even when they're in the font catalogue of a reputable place like Adobe instead of on dafont.

I would say though, that it is still going to be in the 'currently unfashionable' category for many potential users. Use of it by any entity outside the Arabic script community to relate material to that community could potentially be misconstrued.

This is why, in the present climate, so many people play it safe and use Papyrus, making it an overused face that many people here love to hate.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Do you find this typography politically incorrect?




Maxim Zhukov's picture

Two more New York classics…


quadibloc's picture

@Maxim Zhukov:
Do you find this typography politically incorrect?

It's not what I find politically incorrect, so much as it is what I believe others would so find.

There's nothing in the first photo of the four you included in your post to raise qualms. I think that, in the second, the face in which "Chinese Food" was set, and in the third, the one in which "Lin's", as printed on the glass of the window was set, could cause difficulties depending on the context.

You are right that it isn't really reasonable to complain about any of your examples; these are Chinese restaurants, operated by Chinese people, and they're using an atmospheric typeface to remind potential customers of the nature of their business. But people aren't always reasonable these days, and such typefaces can also be used in other contexts for the purpose of mockery of the script community in question.

So I think that a national chain of restaurants serving Chinese food, where the outlets aren't necessarily owned or staffed by people of Chinese ethnic origins, would avoid this category of typeface. Local Mom and Pop restaurants, fortunately, don't have to (pardon the expression) kowtow to political correctness to the same extent.

HVB's picture

@quadibloc:
John, can you cite any examples of people or organizations having taken offense at such usage? I can think of some stereotypes that might be referenced offensively via typography, but only with the inclusion of pictorial elements, not just with plain letterforms. I've dug around a bit and couldn't find any - which is not to say that they're not there!

- Herb

John Hudson's picture

Chinese-American and Greek-American restaurants are misleading sample sets, I think, when it comes to judging today's typocultural attitudes, because they exhibit a graphic 'language' that became conventional decades ago. Discerning proprietors and their customers are less likely to reject such conventions out of any sense of political correctness than a desperate desire to visually distinguish a higher quality dining experience, hence one doesn't see the same conventions in Chinese and Greek restaurants that try to offer more authentic and regional-specific dishes of the kind that you might actually eat in China or Greece.

...these are Chinese restaurants, operated by Chinese people, and they're using an atmospheric typeface to remind potential customers of the nature of their business.

Specifically, they are signalling to the gweilos that this is a Chinese-American restaurant serving a range of dishes that are as predictable in their flavour and price as the conventions of the typography. The Chinese customers aren't reading this stuff at all, either culturally or literally, any more than they're looking at the English language menu. [I had a great experience at a restaurant in Vancouver late one night. I arrived with the first half of our party -- a bunch of white guys -- and we were seated and issued with English menus. A few minutes later the rest of our party arrived, including one Chinese guy, and the waiters immediately came along and took away our menus and issued us with new, bilingual ones listing a different selection of dishes.]

quadibloc's picture

@John Hudson:
[I had a great experience at a restaurant in Vancouver late one night. I arrived with the first half of our party -- a bunch of white guys -- and we were seated and issued with English menus. A few minutes later the rest of our party arrived, including one Chinese guy, and the waiters immediately came along and took away our menus and issued us with new, bilingual ones listing a different selection of dishes.]

I read this book in an earlier edition; it talks about this phenomenon, as well as presenting a more accessible method of indexing Chinese characters for lookup by people unfamiliar with the script, and I would recommend the book to people curious about this issue.

@HVB:
John, can you cite any examples of people or organizations having taken offense at such usage?

I have to admit I don't have any specific examples in mind. I've simply noted the increased use of Papyrus and Ondine, and the decreased use of more traditional simulation typefaces, and drawn the conclusion that this is likely due to today's climate of increased sensitivity in this area.

Self-censorship doesn't require a specific incident as a motivator.

Of course, not all simulation typefaces have anything to worry about... for example, I'd say that

http://xuanzhangdesign.com/Akchessima

in any context in which it would be likely to be used would not be perceived as potentially risking giving offence.

And, given that this thread was started by Hrant Papazian, one could muddy the waters a bit more by noting double standards.

It has been noted that there is a tendency in today's Armenian type design scene towards faces which adopt norms of X-height and serif structure carried over from Latin typefaces. These faces aren't used as display faces either to evoke or mock the Latin alphabet world, they're used as primary text typefaces for the Armenian language.

So, here, despite the apparent double standard, it makes sense to cast the Armenian script community as the victim rather than the perpetrator - having the distinctiveness of their own typography smothered by the dominance of the Latin alphabet.

(And the situation is complicated by the fact that, as Hrant has pointed out, Armenia being a small place, and having endured restrictions on printing in its own language for much of its history, it needs to be open to outside influence, as opposed to being insular and tied to Bolorgir... I presume the solution he is hoping for is a fruitful interaction between the homeland and the diaspora Armenian communities, which are currently at the two opposite extremes.)

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