Latinized Greek



  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 600
    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: 977
    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: 1,532
    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)


  • Vassilis GeorgiouVassilis Georgiou Posts: 10
    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: 600
    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.

  • Vassilis GeorgiouVassilis Georgiou Posts: 10
    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: 600
    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.
  • Just pitching in an idea: here is an experiment for a typeface design that has 6 scripts: Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, Thai, Khmer and Lao.  Recently, I've been encountering typeface design ideas from Bangkok and from some Thai and European expatriate typeface designers based in that city (Mark Froemberg, Ben Mitchell, Anuthin Wongsunkakon).  Given the background of Thai, the typeface design faced significant evolutionary pressure from the advertising industry, effectively importing Latin form-giving techniques into Thai.  With this, Greek and Thai are the poster children for so-called 'Latinisation of Design', where even defining the term 'Latinisation' is controversial.  Due to the power of the Thai advertising and media industry to its neighbours, most especially Laos and Cambodia, their respective native scripts are most likely to be affected.  This is also how I see Greek, Coptic, Armenian and Georgian in relation to Cyrillic and Latin, with the one receiving the most impact will especially be Greek.
    I agree with Twardoch that the way the scholars from rest of the world sees Greek is that of a world typeface.  Due to Greek being used not only in Greece but practically the whole scholarly and scientific world and being used alongside Latin, Greek is the most likely to undergo significant pressure to harmonise with Latin.  Considering its history of not being in the press for a good number of centuries, and it being kept alive by scholars outside Greece, with the way I see it, it simply does not make sense to create separate glyphs for mathematical variables, IPA and the plain glyphs for everyday Greek.  Due to this, I created a design that is modelled on Venetian and Dutch Garalde, allowing numerous angles and variable axes.  This was meant to accommodate Greek.  One of the important parameters of the design experiment is that there must be a differing form for leaning and upright, and Greek is no exception, neither are Thai, Khmer and Lao.  Evened-out grey colour is also an important parameter, especially for Greek.  In here, this experiment explored a few forms, the lunate epsilon for the upright, and the one-stroke epsilon for the leaning form.  It turned out that the more cursive pi would harmonise with looped Thai, Khmer and Lao, as pointed out by Tatiana Marza.

    The last 2 photos show the forms I have preferred for Greek.
    By observation, I sort of formed this little theory: that in a group of script systems within the same family, if one script's typeface design changes form-giving technology and techniques, the sister and the parent script will undergo similar pressure to adapt and change design paradigm accordingly.  Greek and Cyrillic are the primary examples with Latin as the one setting the evolutionary pressure with technology and design vocabulary.  This will also happen to Khmer and Lao vis-à-vis Thai.  This is from the semiotic theory of psychological image, where an image is evoked in the minds of the perceived from a visually designed object.
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 606
    edited March 2
    @Uwe Waldmann At the risk of sounding like a smartass... I think final sigma never looks like c. Lunate sigma is a contextless form, used at all positions, replacing both final and regular sigma.
    As for inappropriate forms in math context, a final sigma like s would be more likely to come up. Then again, that's all pretty obvious, but since math Greek is used by more people than the Greek language, it's a valid point.
  • Uwe WaldmannUwe Waldmann Posts: 4
    edited March 3
    @Uwe Waldmann At the risk of sounding like a smartass... I think final sigma never looks like c. Lunate sigma is a contextless form, used at all positions, replacing both final and regular sigma.
    Have a look at the examples posted by Vassilis Georgiou earlier in this thread (January 26), notably "Ιωσήφις".
    But you're right that a final sigma that can be confused with "s" would be just as unsuitable for math as a final sigma that looks like "c".

  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 606
    @Uwe Waldmann Thanks for the link!
    I find the ascending final sigma and epsilon in these samples quite endearing. (Here's the original post with the samples).
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 600
    since math Greek is used by more people than the Greek language,
    It's true that mathematical Greek is used in nearly every country in the world. However, the number of people who write equations using Greek letters may still be relatively small, although I suppose if you count high school geometry...

    But it should not be forgotten that mathematical Greek, however widely used, is irrelevant to the primary subject of this thread (not that it was not entirely appropriate to mention it in the context of the specific points discussed) as it is the typography used by the Greek-language community to express itself for which the concept of cultural preservation is meaningful.

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