What are 'true italics'?

124»

Comments

  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 892
    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.
    This approach was used to interesting effect by Rudolph Ruzicka with the two Electra “italics” in the Postscripts on Dwiggins chapbooks. The original sloped roman Italic was used for quotations, excerpts, and commentary; the later Cursive was used for titles and emphasis.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,156
    What I like about John's approach is that it seems to be based on function rather than dogma.  Newer typefaces may require newer thinking to solve current issues.  That is not to say that old ways are bad.  It is just to say that we should not stop evaluating and evolving.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,444
    edited October 2017
    Eras: Armenianization?

    I like that face a lot, but its slight lean mitigates against it in pixel displays.

    At the other end of the scale, I gave Figgins Sans a 20 degree inclination (to match Scotch Modern), but that can be problematic when inserted in roman text—the spacing goes wack, with uneven centering, depending on the particular letters at the boundary.

    I conclude that the cursive quality of serifed italics aids not only fit with adjacent letters (a practical consideration in metal days), but also evens out spacing when italics are inserted in roman text.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 459
    edited October 2017
    Frankly, I don't think the term italic should properly be applied beyond Latin, even to related secondary styles in Cyrillic and Greek, and do so only for convenience and in context of making font families with nominal Italic fonts.
    It is true that the word "italic" is etymologically related to the name of Italy. The name came about because both Aldus and Arrighi were working in Italy.

    But nowadays, it is used to mean "that sloped stuff used for emphasis", and thus if sloped Hebrew or even sloped Gujarati is used for emphasis, one will push the "I" button to get it (making it a "nominal Italic font" at least)... and thus, at some point, we have to recognize that the current meaning of a word is not the same as its original meaning.

    Of course, though, it shouldn't be surprising either that unlike laypersons, professional typographers will use the technical language of their craft correctly.

    And in the context of this thread, the possibilities for confusion are immense!

    I've used the phrase "cursive italic" as opposed, say, to "traditional italic" or "historical italic" for indicating the distinction in question partly since the thread began with a discussion of a (non-sloped!) typeface called "true italic" - but, admittedly, primarily because the other possibility hadn't even occurred to me. Even though an earlier post in jest ("is actually Italian") suggested the issue you now raise.

    In the case of Cyrillic, it might be noted that the italics included with many typefaces, including Times Roman, are cursive in nature, and thus do derive from Aldus and Arrighi. Cyrillic is currently so thoroughly Latinized that one could conceive of changing from Latin to Cyrillic by substituting individual letter shapes and going through intermediate stages. So excluding Cyrillic almost raises the question of whether the Pan-African Alphabet, Icelandic, or even Polish, can be said to truly have "italics", and I'm sure I don't want to go there.

    None the less, it may be noted that the Wikipedia articles on "Italics" and "Oblique type" do distinguish between the two, and they do not refer to oblique type as a variety of italics, but as an alternative to italics which is distinct from italics. So the correct usage you advocate presumably does survive in the standard reference works their authors consulted.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,444
    It was weird, when I was working on the Greek of my Scotch, that for consistency with the Latin and Cyrillic, I discovered that its “italic” made most sense to be based on what had traditionally been the default style of slanted, cursive type, which had previously been considered “roman”, because that’s the term for the default.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,657
    edited October 2017
    But nowadays, it is used to mean "that sloped stuff used for emphasis", and thus if sloped Hebrew or even sloped Gujarati is used for emphasis, one will push the "I" button to get it (making it a "nominal Italic font" at least)... and thus, at some point, we have to recognize that the current meaning of a word is not the same as its original meaning.
    All that indicates is that the conventions of word processing software and corresponding font family are Latin-centric. HTML is better in this respect, tagging the use rather than the nominal style, and leaving it up to the style sheet to determine how e.g. emphasis or citation are displayed.

    But here you are talking about the one of the roles of italic type — 'for emphasis' —, whereas I was responding to your comment that 'traditional Armenian typeface often appeared either entirely in italics', which was not, as I pointed out, italic in the sense of the roles played by 'italic'. The point is simply this: not everything that is slanted is italic, either in origin or in use.

    In the case of Cyrillic, it might be noted that the italics included with many typefaces, including Times Roman, are cursive in nature, and thus do derive from Aldus and Arrighi.

    Pretty much every writing system in the world has both formal and cursive modes and construction: it's one of the distinctions that emerges in any mature scribal culture. Now, in the case of Cyrillic typefaces there is, thanks to Peter the Great, a direct correspondence between several styles of in Latin and Cyrillic, but the forms of the Cyrillic курсивный are derived from handwriting in Cyrillic script. So 'cursive' Cyrillic types marry local written forms with an imported typographic style — which in the West, traces back to the Italian chancery cursive hand of the latter 15th Century —, such that it makes some sense for English speakers to call Cyrillic cursive types 'italic' in a kind of third cousin twice removed familial sense.
  • But nowadays, it is used to mean "that sloped stuff used for emphasis", and thus if sloped Hebrew or even sloped Gujarati is used for emphasis, one will push the "I" button to get it (making it a "nominal Italic font" at least)... and thus, at some point, we have to recognize that the current meaning of a word is not the same as its original meaning.
    I agree. No Russian bats an eye when they press the «К» button to write a single Latin loanword in italics, even when the typeface has no cursive-like italics.
  • As a type user, not a type drawer, I've found this thread educational, as well as entertaining in the sense that it's fun to see the fine distinctions important within a profession but which most others are oblivious to. For me, italic is whatever the typeface designer provided as the first alternative to the roman, be it oblique, cursive, upright cursive, script … But whatever it might technically be, the important thing to me is that it work harmoniously with the roman and be easy to read on its own for passages of some length. On many projects where I've had to decide between several fonts that would work well for body text, the decision ultimately came down to which had the most suitable italic. Personally, I'm a fan of the cursive style with minimal slant (e.g. FF Quadraat). The cursive structure and condensed letterforms provide plenty of contrast with the roman without the need to introduce any significant slant. I find excessive slant jarring when a word in italic appears within text set in roman.
Sign In or Register to comment.