Mixing and matching italic and roman shapes in cyrillic fonts

I came across this rather interesting logo of Interfax, the biggest news agency of Russia.
It’s not so much the graphic quality of the logo - which I’ll kindly leave to your judgment - but the choice of glyph shapes that interests me.



The normal way to write interfax in russian would be интерфакс, but instead of и, the latin character u is used, and instead of ф there is this rather exotic mix of ф and the latin f.
I understand that the u shape is basically the traditional italic version of и and that even the ф can be somewhat explained if you look at the roman/italic comparison below.

But here’s the question:
Mixing and matching italic and roman shapes in one alphabet has become quite acceptable in latin scripts, but does the same count for cyrillic? Even in fonts for what I’d call ‘serious’ usage?






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Comments

  • Could I for instance use m instead of т or n instead of п without trouble?
  • Wow, that logo... How do you say "dog's breakfast" in Russian?  ;-Þ
    In this case the dog is eating his own vomit.

    Anyway, what’s acceptable is what designers and readers accept. Just because it hasn’t been done or accepted before doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t be. Especially with a writing system that spans as many places and cultures as Cyrillic. But I think it would be important to study the forms of Cyrillic handwriting and cursive styles first, to get an idea of what shapes play well together.
  • What I like about the cursive forms is that they lend a more lowercase feel to cyrillic text. I suppose adding them as a stylistic set could be an idea, simply to test the water.
  • instead of и, the latin character u is used
    Very Bulgarian.

    Could I for instance use m instead of т or n instead of п without trouble?

    Depends on the style of type and how consistent you are. There's no reason why an upright and formalised version of the cursive letter shape norms can't constitute a valid style (it is the norm in Bulgaria), but I would say that you should try to be consistent, so that readers familiar with the cursive shapes will engage with the style on those terms. Mixing and matching typical upright letter shapes with cursive letter shapes would be too Frankenstein, I think.

  • There's no reason why an upright and formalised version of the cursive letter shape norms can't constitute a valid style (it is the norm in Bulgaria)

    Cormorant Infant has Bulgarian forms and is served quite a lot in Russia, according to the Google Fonts infographic... so it can't be all that unusual.



  • Wow, I suppose we could call this a font for ‘serious’ usage. And consistent indeed. Great to see this, thanks Christian.

    off topic 1: I think I do understand US, RU and JP, but what is VN?
    off topic 2: why is your font called ‘Infant’?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 915
    edited December 2016
    off topic 1: I think I do understand US, RU and JP, but what is VN?
    VN = Vietnam

    off topic 2: why is your font called ‘Infant’?

    I presume because it uses the simpler, single-counter forms of a and g.

    I recall, BTW, that Sue Walker at the University of Reading, who is an expert in childhood literacy, has found no benefit to these forms in teaching children to read.
  • [off topic]
    Well, apparently they worked for me:-)

    I think I got interested in type in the first place from the schoolbooks from which I learned to read. I can still recall them vividly.

    Many years later I found out that they were set in Gill Sans Infant :-)





  • But back on topic: I seems a good idea to include a ‘Bulgarian’ stylistic set anyway?
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 723
    edited December 2016
    VN = Vietnam

    I figured it was either that or Vanuatu.  :grimace: 

    Yeah, if anything, I would expect the greater visual distinctness of the two-storey designs to improve recognition for schoolkids. I guess they do learn the single-storey versions for handwriting, though. In any case, Infant fonts also work well in grown-up settings such as this, where they combine the professionality of a serif typeface with a certain friendly otherness.

    Perhaps Bulgarian forms have a similar effect in Cyrillic? After all, both they and Infant forms are based on handwriting.
    But back on topic: I seems a good idea to include a ‘Bulgarian’ stylistic set anyway?
    Yes. It's not much work, and I guess it makes a lot of difference to Bulgarians.  :smile:
  • But back on topic: I seems a good idea to include a ‘Bulgarian’ stylistic set anyway?
    You could put these variants in a stylistic set, but if wanted as default forms in Bulgarian language text, you should also map them in the <locl> feature for BGR language system tag.

  • Thank you John, I will do that.
  • Upright italic/Bulgarian/Latinised forms are perfectly acceptable for logo/signage purposes (not all of them, of course, just m, n, g, ɯ really). You will often see a sign that says "Проgyкmы", or "Деmскuŭ саg".

    However, they are practically never used for running text, unless you want to imitate handwriting for some purpose (e.g., to typeset a pre-filled form, "ФАМИЛИЯ: Нuкumuн").

  • I have a theory that anything used in display trickles down to text eventually, just in a more subtle form. Somebody do a thesis on that already. Anyway, fingers crossed for Cyrillic to get out of the house more.
  • @Hrant H. Papazian, I haven't really seen these letterforms in print, but I haven't been reading trendy magazines lately. The last bold experiment I can think of was Ruderman's "Big City Sans", which introduced outrageous ligatures to Cyrillic.
  • Great to see Ilya Ruderman’s projects. Very exciting combination of tradition and rebellion.
  • You will often see a sign that says "Проgyкmы", or "Деmскuŭ саg".

    I presume you mean ɡ (the cursive form of д), not two-storey g as displayed here.
  • The customized version of Futura PT made for the Type Journal website (also used the publishing house Schrift) has an angular m-like shape for т, see this comment by editor Rustam Gabbassov.
  • You will often see a sign that says "Проgyкmы", or "Деmскuŭ саg".

    I presume you mean ɡ (the cursive form of д), not two-storey g as displayed here.
    You're absolutely right, of course. My browser defaulted to a font with single-storey ɡ, and I didn't think other ones would use a different font.

  • Great to see Ilya Ruderman’s projects. Very exciting combination of tradition and rebellion.
    Really like the stencil! But where are those outrageous ligatures...?
  • @Christian Thalmann

    Check out the third image from the top. There are relatively modest ст, ся, ту, та, гр, сл, ал there, but if you go to https://type.today/en/bigcity and click "Show full codepage" you'll see the whole set, including the really insane ones.
  • @Christian Thalmann

    I’ve been studying your Cormorant Infant for a bit and I came across this interesting trio:

    They are standard Cyrillic forms except for the ascenders. Do they come from some distant tradition or is this you taking liberties?



  • @alex scholing: See here for example. :grimace:
  • Bulgarian after all! Thanks for the link, great help.
  • Botio NikoltchevBotio Nikoltchev Posts: 8
    edited December 2016
    Here is a little bit about what shall be done for "Bulgarian" Cyrillic:
     http://www.lettersoup.de/what-shall-be-done-for-bulgarian-cyrillic-loclbgr/

    Actually I prefer the term modern Cyrillic. Because this forms are not only Bulgarian. For example Maxim Zhukov´s Helvetica from 1963

    The Russians use to call it правый курсив. I think the best way is to look at both developments as a typedesigner and decide wich one is preferred 
    You can also do it like Lucas de Groot - design both forms for Cyrillic Extended. Like he did in the Thesis and also Calibri Light 2015.

    http://www.lucasfonts.com/fileadmin/user_upload/fonts/TheSans/TheSans/character_set/thesans_charset_roman_cyrillic.gif

    @ John Hudson: No its not very Bulgarian its very Cyrillic. Just take a closer look at the Cyrillic handwriting and the development of the Cyrillic Script until the reform of Peter the Great. Wich is actually done by the Dutchs (so not native speaker). It would be like if Donald Trump reforms the Latin Script and  he will let this be done by CJK type designers... 
  • The Russians use to call it правый курсив.
    No. Правый means десен/right, so we would call it прямой, which means прав/upright if we didn't call it вертикальный/vertical. It's a common false friend in Slavic languages.

  • Samuil Simonov Yes you are completely right! Sorry about that mistake. :))
  • I find the Helvetica sample very intriguing and it raises yet more questions.

    First off, the в, к, ж, з differ from what until now I presumed to be Bulgarian forms, in that they lack ascenders/descenders.
    Д, Л and л keep their original Russian form, which suggests that the triangular shapes that I’ve seen elsewhere are Bulgarian?

    Then there is the ‘ge’ which simply is a mirrored latin s. I like it but it seems like a rather bold step in comparison to the Ж, К, ж and к which - reasoned along the same lines - should be more like the Latin K/k. After all, I think Ж and К are closer to the Latin K than the cursive ‘ge’ is to a mirrored Latin s.

    Was this the official Cyrillic Helvetica back then?
  • @alex scholing

    First of all, that's not the official 1963 Helvetica, it's an experiment with the shapes. All typographers experiment with Cyrillic shapes sooner or later, trying to bring them closer to handwritten/Latin shapes. Some shapes are obvious, like those picked for г, и, т, п, д, that's why you see them in both "Bulgarian" typefaces and in Mr. Zhukov's Helvetica.

    Some are less so. Д and Л are rendered as triangles in many typefaces that are based on pre-Petrine designs. It's not a "Bulgarian" invention, but a commonly accepted anachronism that makes the typeface look more like Roman inscriptions. Their original Petrine forms are actually different from each other, they've converged to become design cousins much later.

    Extremely "Bulgarian" letters are в, ж, з, к, ю, Ф.

    The long ascenders of ж, к, ю have no basis in Russian handwriting (ю, for example, is a former ligature of ioy) (I don't know Bulgarian handwriting well enough) and were chosen because "there are not enough ascenders in Cyrillic and it looks like you're writing in small caps".

    Handwritten в looks like handwritten b, but you can't replace it with b in roman font, since that's extremely similar to ь. Pre-Petrine в looks a bit weird, since both counters are o-shaped, the chosen shape is a compromise.

    The same applies to з, which would've looked like z with a j-like descender if it had been adapted from pre-Petrine Russian poluustav.

    I have no idea why the design of Ф was changed.
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