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John Savard


John Savard
Last Active
  • Re: Looking for examples of Latin and Non-Latin side-by-side communication

    In this paper, on page 10 you can see a proposal for making Arabic script Latin-like
    I may not be Hrant, but I definitely think that Boutemene, despite the practical benefits outlined in that paper, is going exactly nowhere. A similar proposal, with less in the way of practical benefits to offer, was made for Hebrew, and despite the dim prospects for peace in the Middle East, the importance of retaining one's cultural roots is something both sides can agree on.

    There's Pathum Egoddawatta's Amma, a Sinhala-Tamil hybrid.
    Strife between the dominant Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka has made the news in past years. I doubt that a common alphabet would actually do much to address the issues underlying the conflict.

    No doubt, by analogy, someone has proposed a Hebrew-Arabic hybrid script. Of course, they could also go back to the Phoenician script as well. And the Arabic language can, of course, be written with Latin characters themselves, as is done on Malta.

    Of course, the Maltese use the Latin script because they were converted to Roman Catholicism, just as Poles and Croatians use the Latin script, while Serbs and Bulgarians and Russians, who were historically Orthodox, use Cyrillic. Similarly, the Arabic script is used for unrelated languages such as Urdu and Farsi - and, in the past, Turkish - because the Islamic religion spread to those places.

    Given, therefore, that script systems are often heavily identified not just with national culture, but with the religious faith dominant among people of a given nationality, they're not something that can be easily changed.
  • Re: Eth and Thorn - historical forms

    Why not unfetter them from historicism in favor of the needs of living users?
    Nothing wrong with that.

    But if you're designing a typeface, the first thing you do need to know is what the letters of the alphabet look like. What makes an A, a B, a C, and so on. That's inferred from looking at other typefaces, at hand-lettering, and so on.

    If you're going to include eth, thorn, wynn, and so on, in a typeface, then, one has to know what they should look like. And if one's only reference is, say, modern typefaces for printing Icelandic, or academic printing of Anglo-Saxon... well, there's always the possibility that these modern sources have gotten it wrong.

    Although the fact that some of the characters involved are still in use in Iceland at least means there's one living tradition to draw upon.

    After one has found out what those characters looked like when they were in active use as part of a written language, then one has a starting point to work from. With that starting point, one can still choose not to slavishly follow historical models.

    But at least one is not working in ignorance, and one isn't bound to repeat errors that may have crept in to the common forms of those characters as they've been conventionalized by type designers without any feel for the scripts and languages that used them.

    Yes, therefore, to making eth, thorn, wynn, and so on work and fit with whatever typeface they're added to, to changing them to serve contemporary readers. But a resounding no to ignoring history, and therefore to being ignorant of the earlier forms and the development of these characters.

    They should not be fettered to historical forms, but the historical forms should be a base on which they can stand.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    The short-term profit of a few, may cause the long-term loss of many.

    So one should reject good (that is also both legal and moral) business opportunity because someone somewhere thinks it might affect their career choices at some unspecified point in the future?

    No. But if that someone somewhere was right, then possibly there might be a case. At present, I have to admit I'm not connecting to Hrant's argument that this threatens "the power of type". But that may be for pedantic reasons: as the power of type is an intrinsic property of type, things like this can't make type less powerful, it can only cheapen that power by making it more easily available.

    But one man's "cheapen" is another man's "democratize", and surely this would also apply to Google Fonts or open-source fonts in general. Where there is a specific issue with what IBM is doing is also unclear.
  • 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: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    Gifting third-parties a way to visually mimic/parody/mock you is bad branding.
    Oh, I agree. That's why I found this an unusual announcement. Which is also partly why I didn't think of the Google font in connection with this, as that was for interfaces, not documentation and advertising.

    For an example of font exclusivity, first Yu-Gi-Oh cards from the start and after a design revision, Magic: the Gathering cards as well, use a special font for their text to help prevent counterfeiting.

    As for Plex itself: the sans-serif lowercase l is unusual, although I applaud the effort to achieve a Bell Gothic-like level of unambiguity. The general design of the sans-serif is evocative of Letter Gothic.

    After looking at the whole typeface, I have a few more general comments.

    The sans is even more inspired by News Gothic, although Letter Gothic does seem to have contributed a degree of inspiration to both it and the mono. The mono distinguishes zero with a dot, and combines a conventional upper case with a somewhat squarish lower case. The serif is similar to a number of other slab-serifs of a type that has become currently fashionable.

    As for the coverage, it doesn't even have Cyrillic and Greek, which are much more closely related to the Latin script than Arabic.