Latinized Greek



  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 503
    edited January 22
    antonis said:
    It is not a matter of DNA or a matter of state identity. It is a matter of dialectic choice. If I want to be Indian or Greek or Chinese in an essential way (accepting and living in accordance to this civilization) then yes. A modern Greek can be Greek (or not) as much as s/he likes. Are they Greek today? Several are.

    I know where I stand on this issue.
    I oppose excessive nationalism, as it's caused a lot of trouble. So I don't favor compelling the Greek people to be more authentically Greek than they wish to be.
    But I expect and assume that most Greeks do want to be authentically Greek in certain ways, and to a certain extent - and this is being frustrated, made more difficult than it ought to be, by current circumstances. Making an effort to overcome that increases their choices, not decreasing them.
    Of course for most people it's also true that economic survival is a higher priority than cultural survival, even a much higher priority. I don't believe in shaming them for that either.

    Also, if one's first language is not English, one can't be blamed for making the odd spelling mistake. But it should be known that English has three similar but confusing words:
    • Eminent: among the foremost in one's field, well-respected (from eminentem)
    • Imminent: coming very soon (from imminens)
    • Immanent: present everywhere (chiefly used concerning the presence of God) (from immanens)
    which even native speakers occasionally confuse. (Ocasionally? Or should that be often? Eminent and imminent don't get confused too often, and immanent is very seldom used and mostly unfamiliar, so problems tend to only crop up when it comes around to cause trouble.)
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 953
    edited January 23
    In that sample @Vassilis Georgiou posted that shows various levels of Greekness*, what types of designs do you think Level 1 would be appropriate for? I'm doing a hard deco Bodoni (picture a more severe ATF Newspaper Bodoni) and I feel like it's begging for the level 1 treatment with less Hellenic features.

    Another question I have is related to pushing the boundaries in the techno direction. It's more about abstraction that Latinization but there's some overlap. I've seen Greek techno rave posters/record covers where η=n, χ=x, ν=v, ρ=p. But I recall back in the early 2000's, an example of μ=m. I've only seen one instance. It might have been more like a Cyrillic м. Has anyone ever seen this abstraction?

    * No need to put Greekness in quotes; it's a real word.

    Edit: Sorry, I forgot about this thread: Fun Find Early Greek Didot
  • antonisantonis Posts: 7
    edited January 23
    @Ray Larabie I do not see Level 1 as strongly Latinized except for the letter chi which is drawn as an x and eta drawn as an n (without the descender). However, most Greeks will be OK with this eta because it is common in people hand writing for many decades. That leaves as with the x only. If one fixes chi and eta it could be even used in books.

    I have never seen in Greece an m for a mu anywhere. It was probably a mistake. Still many versions of MS-Windows (probably Mac too) have broken keyboards. Several versions of these OSes produce a micro for mu, a difference for Delta and an Ohm for Omega. And noway they can produce the Greek semicolon (anoteleia). I have seen proper support only on Linux systems. Sometimes Linux systems have also a problem with Greek semicolon because of Unicode refusal to fix their mistakes. They once declared that the Greek semicolon as equivalent to middledot and ever since they refuse to fix this with the excuse of "backwards compatibility". In any case, if you design Greek you should place the Greek semicolon (=a raised dot, char U0387) at x height.

    For the rest of the letters, the worse is p for rho and x for chi. The v for nu and n for eta are more or less acceptable or at least not very bad. But p for rho is so bad....

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,458
    edited January 24

    I didn’t consider the variants of my Scotch Modern Greek to be levels of Greekness, but degrees of historicism. 

    At top is the base, below that a stylistic set with a more scripty look, its alternates taken from the traditional, italic-looking style. (There are also archaic variants of sigma and pi, not shown, and a descender-less beta option for the middle of words.)

    I made the italic follow the traditional Greek type style, because that works well in the didone genre of typeface, especially with the pot-hook serifs of the Scotch Modern italic.

    However, I don’t do such alternates any more, it was just something that seemed worth pursuing in the early days of OpenType—now I’m of the opinion that stylistic sets just water down the personality of a typeface. 

  • @Nick Shinn well done. Your Scotch Modern Greek is great. I have seen it in good use in a couple of occasions, one is for the Greek National Opera’s Central Stage catalogues (designed by k2design – where the screenshot bellow comes from)


  • edited January 25
    @Ray Larabie of course you could go for the level 1 treatment, if you are designing a display face. If your intention for it is to be used in long text settings, I do not recommend it. 

    Look at the greek set of Parmigiano by Typotheque. It is a type system inspired by Bodoni’s typefaces. As you can see on the screenshot, not many straight lines are present on the Greek lowercase letters (which were designed by Irene Vlachou).

    As for the techno direction that you mention, I can only say that it is a product of it’s time, which is the ‘90s. I believe that we should not look back to the models of the 90’s at all.

    PS Here is a sample of actual Bodoni Greek, published in 1787

    Edit: the image from of the Bodoni page is taken from the book Ανθολόγιο Ελληνικής τυπογραφίας [Anthology of Greek typography], edited by George D. Matthiopoulos, Crete University Press & Greek Font Society, 2009

    Edit No2: is something wrong with the typeface used here? Where is letter pi?

  • @antonis, as Zyrrana Zateli has said «κι εσύ έχεις δίκιο, κι εγώ έχω δίκιο, εδώ τα χαλάμε». For the record, regarding the origin and the evolution of the greek minuscules, I am posting here three early examples, taken from the book Greek Papyri in the Benaki Museum, ed. Eustathios Papapolychroniou, Athens 2000.

    From left to right: 

    • Receipt from the υποκείμενον της λαογραφίας, Bacchias, 25 BC or AD 19
    • Lease of a room, Herakleopolites, 2nd half of IV/AD
    • List of soldiers, Hermopolis Magna, 1st half of V/AD
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 503
    Oh dear. Now you've opened up a can of worms.

    I think we can all agree that Greek literary papyri of the 1st century AD (or even the 1st century CE) are authentically Greek.

    From "The Paleography of Greek Papyri" by Frederick G. Kenyon (1899).

    If one goes down, say, column number 12, one can conclude it's authentically Greek to use "a" for lower-case alpha and "c" for lower-case sigma. Xi can follow the shape used in what was earlier in this thread pointed out as a cautionary example of a terribly Latinized Greek.

    Of course, though, these literary papyri were really written in a modified upper-case, and the non-literary papyri, which are much more cursive, would provide a different model.
  • Thank you very much, Vassilis and John. These writings and the Kenyon table represent the greek uncial, not the greek lowercase.
    The baseline/headline principle is still dominating the order of the letters, in the vertical direction. The letters are actually aligned around an invisible centreline. The shapes still resemble the ancient ‘capitals’ (borrowing this essential Latin term here is delicate) very much, only two letters have seen a substantial transformation (sigma, omega). There are ascenders and descenders, yes, but the have not (yet) the prominent role the will be playing in later centuries’ writing modes.

    The picture is, more or less, the same as with the Latin uncial script, which shows almost exactly the same sense of development in those days.

  • edited January 26

    @John Savard, of course those letterforms that you mention were authentically Greek at their time, but they have actually transformed through the ages. Certain letters like stigma were even abandoned. Would you consider bringing back the long s? Wouldn’t that be an anachronism?

    It is a fact that since the formation of the modern Greek state (that was after the revolution that started in 1821) the prevailing model of the greek typographic minuscules is that of Firmin Didot’s printing types. He, as a philhellene, was the first to donate printing presses and movable type to Greeks and those became the norm. Those types are beautiful but they do have issues, regarding stress and contrast. Still, it is what we are accustomed to. 

    Personally, I divide graphic design and the use of typography in two categories:

    1. Book design

    2. Everything else

    So, in book design, I must say –firstly as a reader– that I mostly like reading the Didot types and Ελζεβίρ (Times Greek). It is really hard for me to read 300 pages on a latinised font. I only do it when I really need to read that particular text. 

    The challenge of course is for someone to surpass those models, and create new, better greek types that are true and honest and will be accepted by the general public. But I don’t believe that will happen through latinisation. One must first understand these models, by trying to copy them. Myself, I have made a couple of lousy efforts (pictured bellow). This process, I must say, has helped me a lot. Still a long way to go, though. 

    In the second category, anything goes :)


    @Andreas Stötzner, of course the examples I posted are very casual – not at all formal letters, and certainly they are not minuscules. But they don’t look like uncials to me either. Especially on the third one, as you can see on the image bellow, ascenders, descenders and connected letters are apparent. Isn’t this some kind of evolution?

    From top to bottom: Theodore, Joseph, Dorotheus

    Fun fact: greek scribes (at least since the 8th century) were not writing using a baseline. They wrote the letters hanging from the –so called for Latin– x-height

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 503
    I just thought it was amusing that the xi from Romulus Greek, which I thought was horrific, had an authentically Greek predecessor. However, I've examined it again, and plenty of its letters are still without excuse. As I've noted, an authentically Greek typeface that's too unfamiliar to be readable isn't much use, and no, I would not consider bringing back the long s to English. In German, however, I might make it visible as part of the eszet.
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