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John Savard


John Savard
Last Active
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    Ben Blom said:

    Making free fonts, facilitates to kill the market of paid fonts.

    This statement is empirically testable. What’s the evidence base?
    Is it? It's not as if we can actually do an experiment, setting up two parallel timelines with and without free fonts.

    But apparently there is some evidence:

    Two things happened around the same time in the early 90s: Microsoft introduced their TrueType Font Packs, and Corel started bundling a boatload of fonts.

    Within a year or two, the market for retail fonts at the prices they had at the time crumbled. Adobe for example ended up laying off something like 3/4 of the people they had working on fonts, mostly in 1994, I think it was. Leastways, that’s my recollection.

    He goes on to say, though, that the current boom in libre fonts hasn't produced a similar effect that he has noticed. I think the Corel boatload of Bitstream fonts, though, include license terms that preclude using them with PDF files to be distributed generally online, so that makes a case for using libre fonts in preference even to such cheap ones.

    I would think there are at least some people who can't pirate paid fonts for some application, because its output is public, but will choose a free font, if one is available, instead of a paid one.

    The question isn't really whether such a common-sense conclusion is true. Instead, the real questions are:

    Is the effect a significant one, that is a real threat to font designers making a living?

    And how can one legitimately prevent amateurs from designing fonts for themselves or giving them away for free?

    As a free font, I find the serif version of Plex potentially a threat in this area, because it happens to resemble a certain style of typeface that is currently fashionable - and so I presume its widespread use is generating sales of some (possibly expensive!) paid font. However, there are already a number of free fonts of this general style.

    The two cases, thus, that I am distinguishing here is between sales of new typefaces that have become fashionable - and older typefaces that are standards, such as Caledonia, Optima, Century Expanded, Palatino, Bembo, and so on.

    At the moment, the market is robust for typefaces of the former type, but probably quite weak for those of the latter type, and I'm not sure much can be done about this.

  • Re: Dutch IJ with dots

    I think that Hrant acknowledges that a single acute might not look appropriate to native speakers of Dutch at this time.

    The way I understand his viewpoint is this: that it would be worthwhile for the Dutch language community to make the effort to get used to it, because having "ij" as a single letter makes Dutch unique, and we need to promote and maintain the uniqueness of the writing system of each language.

    Essentially, it seems to me that he feels that for the Dutch to see themselves as part of a larger Latin script community, rather than having a script of their very own which just happens to be derived from the Latin script like those of some of their neighbors, is to leave the Dutch essentially defenseless against changes to their script (and language, and culture) brought about by the huge dominance of the English language in the world today.

    Try as I might, I can't see his concerns as completely invalid, even though my sympathies are in the direction of having the people of the industrialized democracies concentrate on what unites them rather than what divides them. But in the specific case at issue, I think it would be a very long time before "ij" achieves the same status as "yerry" (Russian Ы) even if the Netherlands were in isolation from the rest of the world; and, given that it isn't, a considerable amount of effort would be required to take the Dutch script in that direction.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    And free to use for any budding rival of IBM...
    Don't worry, I think co-opting IBM's font identity is the last thing any "budding rival of IBM" that wanted to establish any sort of credibility would want to do.

    I will definitely admit that if IBM were in the business of, say, making children's building blocks, or movies, or consumer products of a number of varieties, imitating the number one maker's typography would indeed be a way to win customers almost subconsciously.

    But IBM isn't in that kind of an industry, especially now that it's shed its personal computer line. Instead, they sell their products to large businesses, and they're big-ticket items that are purchased as the result of a very conscious process.
  • Re: The president of Kazakhstan (or is it Qazaqstan now?) signs the latinisation edict

    The German name of Kazakhstan is Kasachstan, the Polish name is Kazachstan, the English name is Kazakhstan. I don't think either of those would need to change because the Kazakh spelling of the name changes. Languages that use the Latin alphabet usually have different names for different countries. Sweden is called Sverige in Swedish, Schweden in German, Szwecja in Polish and Sweden in English. 
    It's true that we don't call Sweden Sveriges in English, despite seeing that is its real name from their postage stamps.

    But it is a common practice in English to take foreign words and retain their original foreign spellings - this is why English spelling is so hard to learn. We use one set of rules to spell native English words, and a different set of rules for words borrowed from Latin and Greek.

    Sweden and Germany, Vienna and Florence, are places known to English speakers from long ago - so it's too late to switch to Sveriges, Deutschland, Wien, and Firenze. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, really hasn't been present in the consciousness of the English-speaking world for nearly as long. Thus, I think that the spelling of its name is vulnerable to change, just as today we refer to Beijing instead of Peking in China.

    I agree that it's by no means certain that we will start writing Qazaqstan instead of Kazakhstan in English, but it is a very real possibility.
  • Re: Dutch IJ with dots

    With regard to keyboards, yes it is the case that computer keyboards have omitted the IJ/ij letter, obliging Dutch users to type I+J/i+j. However, IJ appeared frequently on typewriter keyboards in the Netherlands e.g. Remington Noiseless Portable
    As I noted, back in the 1970s, ij would have appeared on the keyboards of computer terminals in the Netherlands, because it was part of the Dutch national versions of 7-bit ASCII under ISO 646, even if it got lost in the switch to 8 bits. And that was doubtless a consequence of the fact that the character was usually found on Dutch typewriters.

    So while it may be that the younger generation no longer thinks of "ij" as a letter of their alphabet, I suspect that anyone my age in Holland definitely does think of it in this way.