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John Hudson

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John Hudson
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  • Re: What are 'true italics'?

    I don't at all insist that an italic needs to be cursive, although that's certainly a) valid and b) historically the source of italic. The point to me is that italic is a secondary style — not secondary in the sense of subordinate — used for a number of aspects of textual differentiation and articulation. As a secondary style, I would say that the primary characteristic of italic is that it shares a similar weight and texture — and hence spatial frequency — to the roman style, so can be incorporated into blocks of roman text without either drawing the eye or forcing a change in spatial frequency tuning, as using bold as a secondary style would.

    So in terms of this characteristic, a sloped roman or an italic are both viable typographic options for a secondary style in the roles that 'italic' performs. But note my terminology: I don't say that a sloped roman is a viable italic, because I consider a sloped roman to be a thing in itself, not an italic. And when I refer to 'italic' with the quote marks, I refer to the typographic roles traditionally taken by italic, not to the style of type fulfilling those roles (remember that on typewriters, those roles were regularly fulfilled by underlining). And when I refer to viable typographic options I mean just that: options in the design and layout of text, in which context sloped roman and italic might not be alternative nominal italics found in different typefaces, but things that are both useful. [Somewhere around here I have an English translation of an Iranian novel set in my early Manticore typeface, which uses both italic and sloped roman — the latter mechanically slanted so suffering some distortions — for different aspects of the text, alongside the primary roman style.]

    The use of secondary styles in textual differentiation and articulation isn't limited to Latin or even to European script typography. Lots of text traditions around the world have developed conventional systems of mixed styles, and not all of them differentiate the same kinds of information or use a formal/cursive construction distinction. Notably, though, simply slanting one style to create a secondary style does not seem to have been a common practice anywhere. Why? Because from a design perspective slant is not an after-effect applied to a form, it is part of the making of a form, and it influences other aspects of the form, such as horizontal compression, modulation patterns and axis, etc..
  • Re: What are 'true italics'?

    Tom,
    Well, to be fair, it used to be normal for a sans "italic" to be a slanted roman plus optical corrections. I believe the simple slanted roman per se has never been terribly common, apart from faux italics created by operating systems.
    In Type 1 days, some fonts that used the PostScript slant operator for italics. I remember when Linotype sent me the Type 1 Helvetica fonts as source materials for Linotype Helvetica (later Helvetica World), I was surprised to open the italic fonts in FontLab and discover the actual glyph outlines were upright.
    _____

    On the subject of 'true italics', I don't think italics need cursive letter construction, but I do think they can benefit from employing single-storey a and g, which can of course have non-cursive construction even in upright type, as Futura demonstrates. This hybrid approach seems to me under-utilised.
  • Re: Could we hack into designing a Persian/Arabic braille font?

    As Kent notes, directionality is a property of Unicode characters. All Arabic script letters have strong RTL directionality, which means that layout engines will arrange those characters from right-to-left, even if the string of Arabic letters is embedded in a larger left-to-right context. In order to force Arabic script characters to be laid out left-to-right, you need to use a Unicode directional override control character. That could be done to force Persian text into LTR direction; however....

    Braille is a distinct script, not a cipher of Latin, Arabic, etc.. So the proper level at which to transliterate a text in the Arabic script orthography of Persian to the Braille script orthography is character conversion, not font selection. So rather than spending time trying to make a font display Arabic script characters as LTR Braille characters, it would be better to work on Arabic-to-Braille conversion macros for text editors and word processors. Such macros are relatively easy to make, and provide a much more robust method of encoding and hence displaying text in the Braille script.
  • Re: Weapon of choice

    I've not tried that particular vertical mouse, but did use this Evoluent one for a while. I also tried the joystick-like 3M ergonomic mouse, but preferred the Evoluent one. Vertical mice are great for avoiding wrist problems — so much so that I wonder why all mice are not vertical —, but won't do much to help if you have rotator cuff or related shoulder problems.
  • Re: Antarctican Cyrillic

    The left stroke should start out as vertical and then gently bend left, it really looks weird when it begins slanted.

    In this case, yes, although I think it depends on the idiomatic style of the typeface, rather than a fixed rule. There are, of course, styles in which the left stroke is diagonal, or in which the whole shape is triangular, or trapezoid.

    What these letter should generally not be is boxy, rectangular forms with just a sudden turn at the bottom. Whether starting truly vertical or slightly angled, the gentle, sagging curve should progress down the whole length of the stroke.