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Bahman Eslami

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Bahman Eslami
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  • Re: Where is Arabic Italic originating from?

    Personally I'm not fan of only slanted italics. Bringing idea of italic in Arabic is forced by softwares and is not serving a function in Arabic. A person did a research on how you could emphasize words or have same effect of italic on Persian readers. The video is here (sorry there is no english subtitles). He's saying slanting in either directions does not have emphasizing effect. Using keshide is a better option. But there are many manuscripts showing usage of different calligraphy styles in one text column. Unfortunately I can't find examples at the moment. My point is construction of Naskh, Thuluth, Ruqah, Nastaliq, ... are different. You can use this as a starting point. It's not easy to come up with one unified family containing some of these styles. But I can't buy into the idea of slanting Arabic and also naming it italic or iranic or whatever. It's fundamentally wrong.

    Edit:
    .The video contains slides with english text. It could help non-natives to get some of the points he's trying to make.
    .The link to the researcher's website if you want to ask more information on his research. He can speak english btw. 
  • Re: Questions about Arabic Type

     I am wondering are there any specific details in the letters that give it the hint of Nastaliq? And would you say the calligraphy is beautiful and/or legible?

    They are stylistic features and I can't say if it affects legibility or not. The features of Naslatliq that I see are:
    1. Placing the dot of the «ن» inside the bowl.
    2. The teeth of «س» doesn't have a thick stroke in the beginning.
    3. The letter «ک» is attached to the «ل» when it comes before it and the construction of «ک» has become more rounded.

    All these features suggest that the calligrapher was familiar with Nastaliq. Generally Nastaliq was dominant writing style in Iran and Afghanistan before the arrival of moving type and is still used more in the titles to signify authority or grace.
    When you say you would go for a Naskh typeface for scientific/scholarly use, do you mean simplified arabic (like a lot of system fonts) or a naskh with traditional forms? 
    This is also a personal choice. In Iran readers are more used to typefaces which are now called allegedly Eurabic or Neo-Naskh or Simplified Arabic which utilize the four paradigm shapes per letter. This is also without having the ligatures in text and is only a custom and what people are used to in daily life while reading text. In Arab world it seems that readers are more used to see ligatures in text. If you take a look at newspapers of Arab and Persian world, you will pick up these features in the texts. I would go for a typeface that is well designed regardless of how it utilizes the script in conventional type systems. The curves and how letters connect to neighbors is very important. I would also prefer not very high and low horizontal (asc/des) metrics only because it doesn't appeal visually to me.
  • Re: Questions about Arabic Type

    What I see in the picture doesn't seem like a typeface, it's most certainly handwritten calligraphy and Eurabic term doesn't apply here. I would say the writing is in Naskh style with a hint of Nastaliq flavor which is more prevalent in Afghanestan.

    I can't directly answer your other questions because they are subjective choices. But I would go for a Naskh typeface for scientific/scholarly publications and Nastaliq for fashion, magazine covers. "Nimany" has demonstrated graceful examples of usage of Nastaliq in fashion design. The choice of typeface is yours to find out!
  • Re: Optical correction in Arabic monoline

    If Arabic takes longer to read than Hebrew, or presumably English, when people reading English tend to read English words as a single unit, taking advantage of the general shape of a word as indicated by letters with ascenders and descenders in lower-case, what could be the cause?
    There is no scientific evidence to support your hypothesis. I'm just shocked how many designers without much knowledge of Arabic script are considering the Arabic writing system complex or harder to read or make assumptions that Arabic should be larger next to Latin to be as readable. Please stop making assumptions until you can read it and have proof!

    There hasn't been an unbiased research on Arabic legibility yet and the methods on how a letter is legible or illegible are Latin centric. I know this could be hard to believe for you but people who regularly read Arabic script might read Latin slower even if they do it on day to day basis. I read English considerably more than Persian but still I can scan a Persian text much faster. I'm available for testing! ;)

    but when the letters are connected, letter-by-letter reading, which is still resorted to occasionally, is slower.
    Strongly disagree! Brain recognizes patterns. It doesn't matter if it's connected or not or if it's a letter or not. It just takes some patterns and associates it with a sound or an abstract concept. After a while you become used to certain patterns and you just read the word without decomposing it to letters. You swallow the whole pattern without realizing what it is made of. The pattern could be made form different shapes. In your script the patterns are individual letters. That's probably so hard for you to see why we can read Persian/Arabic text fast enough without decomposing letters because you're used to your own way of reading. We're talking about cognitive psychology here and it's a very elusive subject and very dependent on different factors. Even it has been proved that you can create misleading scientific results with statistics.

    It also doesn't help that typesetting systems designed around Western languages, in addition to being utterly unable to cope with the Nastaliq script used for Urdu and Farsi, also stripped the Naksh script used for Arabic of one of its significant sources of distinctiveness in word shapes.

    Please don't confuse implementation of writing systems with reading. If Arabic writing doesn't fit with western methods of type systems it doesn't mean it's inherently complex to comprehend for its own natives. Before making assumptions about the script please learn the script and read it and see how you perceive the words.

    Right now we're desinging a Latin/Arabic typeface with a colleague of mine. He's designing the Latin and I'm desinging the Arabic. It's very interesting that all the time he perceives Arabic as smaller and I perceive the Latin smaller. It's just about what is our reading bias that defines what is the right proportions. There shouldn't be any 'one to one' proportion similarity in neither of the scripts when they are designed simultaneously. Otherwise it becomes a compromise for one of them.

    The third is that many English words have distinctive shapes because of a unique pattern of ascenders and descenders in lower-case. In the case of Arabic, not only is there a reduced distinctiveness of the letters, particularly in their initial or medial forms, but the larger letters that affect the shape are usually the ones in the final or isolated forms. So distinctiveness in overall word shape largely comes from the points in the word where there are breaks in the script-like connection from one letter to the next.
    It's again confusing type design with cognitive activity. Words are not seen like the way you're describing here. This could be surprise for you but there is no final, initial, medial form in Arabic script. This is just an implementation method in western type systems. We read the script by recognizing the grapheme fusions. It's hard to explain here but I think I really need to come up with illustrations and show how patterns are made in the script to show it explicitly that there is so many incorrect conclusions in this discussion about Arabic script.
  • Re: Optical correction in Arabic monoline

    Nina, Arabic script is not intolerant of reversed contrast and I have to say I'm not against reversed contrast either as long as it works in its context or purpose even in Arabic. In fact as Mamoun mentioned we have a bit of history of reversed contrast in early ages of Arabic script which falls under category of Kufic (كوفي or کوفی) and more especially Eastern Kufic style. There are some astounding examples that hasn't been discovered much in Arabic type design yet. But there is a problem when people start to talk about Kufic style in Arabic type design. In order to see what I'm talking about just google image search Kufic Manuscripts and see how many Arabic reversed contrast you can find. It's just a very very small proportion.

    There could be some reasons why Kufic style had become less common over centuries for writing long text. One reason could be that it's not efficient when it comes to speed of writing. Other reasons could be because it just worn out as hip style. If I pair a Kufic style with a Latin design I would go for black letter because it signifies the same historical image and it has been used in relatively similar context.

    Latinized Arabic has been advertised as Kufic style but it has nothing to do with it. There are some foundries who have distributed quite a library of Latinized Arabic and this is not really good because graphic designers are not that sensitive or Latin graphic designers don't have a clue about what is a good Arabic typeface or not. If contrast direction of Arabic is same as Latin when they are paired the Arabic is Latinized. It's just the easiest way to get away from solving a problem. There could be cultural reasons why designers in Arab world are accepting reverse contrast as a new normal contrast but I can tell you it's not modernity. I think plain ignoring of hundred years of history of Arabic writing and just looking at Latin letters as paradigm is not novelty. Probably they think this signifies progress and modernity because it looks like western world but I think it signifies ignorance. Every curve is designed like the way it is in Latin for a purpose and copying it without knowing that purpose has created a mess.

    It's also about context. Imagine if someone uses a western slab serif reversed contrast for a daily news website. Right now such horrendous choices are happening for Arab news websites or brand identities but it's not even well designed reversed contrast. They think it looks modern, because the designer paired the reversed contrast Arabic with Latin and the users see the Latin and it looks normal to them so they assume the Arabic is also at its normal contrast direction. I think Arab and Persian designers should look at what they have at their disposal instead of looking at Latin letter forms for all the inspiration and ignoring what they have.

    Also one thing that you mentioned is that Arabic is cursive. The word shape that we perceive is different from Latin. Because words are made from connected chunks and they are interpreted differently. Imagine if the contrast becomes reversed, it diminishes this feature because the connected parts becomes thin and hence it becomes less familiar for the reader. It looks disconnected. They were designers out there and might be still out there who effectively want to make Arabic script disconnected because they think it's naive or unsophisticated. So you can see why I think reversed contrast in Arabic is not about just a design decision. I can go on about so many stories why it has become very annoying subject for me. It's just hasn't been done with care.