IJ in a monowidth unicase typeface

Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
edited May 9 in Technique and Theory



1. Double-width glyph. Identical to two separate letters.
2. Horizontally squishing I and J.
3. “Broken U”.
4. =Y (Yes, Y does have a slight descender in this typeface, as does Q.)
5. U with tail. 
Which is best?

Comments

  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited May 9
    Of course a Dutch opinion (if preferably not from a type designer...) counts for more, but:

    — It has to conform to the width, so #1 is out.
    — Avoid a "Y".
    — #2 looks like a mistake.

    So for me it's #3, but it would be nice to squeeze in serifs for the "I", maybe even more than for the "J" (even assuming the lone "J" has that serif). BTW if your "Q" and "Y" are descending, even if the lone "J" isn't (presumably for reasons of spacing) I think the "J" in "IJ" should descend, to give the "I" more room/presence (especially if you do give it serifs).
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
    edited May 9



    Thanks Hrant, I like the idea of a descender, here ’tis.
     I had tried serifs on the “I” of #3, but it was too busy and looked like it was at the scale of a superior character, not an integral part of a larger letter.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    I find that #3 is artistic, #5 somewhat resembles a form used by the Dutch, but #2 resembles what the Dutch use most often. That being said, Hrant may be right that #3 is the best fit for this particular typeface. But it's really only #4 that I would reject completely; let that represent Y in foreign words.
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 75
    The I of 3 with the J of 5.
  • definitely #3.
  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 460
    Dutchie here. I also like #3 best, with or without descender is both fine. And I think K's suggestion would help legibility.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited May 9
    let that represent Y in foreign words.
    As well as local names, including some [in]famous people.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Cruyff
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pim_Fortuyn

    BTW the "Y" shape in #4 should be saved for a Cyrillic.
    K Pease said:
    The I of 3 with the J of 5.
    Great idea. That would make it less of a "U", giving the "I" more presence. (I hope a descending "J" could still help.)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,869
    I prefer option 3 when it doesn't descend. It is more like what I am used to seeing about the streets in Amsterdam.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    @John Hudson In a staid text font, sure. But in this design there are plenty of uncommon aspects anyway (not least a descending "Y").
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,524
    edited May 9
    I don't think I've ever seen a descending U-shaped IJ, whereas the non-descending form is common. Definitely #3 from my side (non-native, but lived in NL for two years...).
    Maybe lose the serif and make the gap a bit wider.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534

    Thanks for your input, everyone!
    Here are four variants of the preferred “shield” shape.
    I like #3, my only concern is that the component “I” and “J” stray too far from their single character counterparts (shown for comparison). However, I’m inclined to think that doesn’t matter.
  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 460
    I'm inclined to say your inclination is correct: it doesn't matter. Both 3 and 4 work well I'd say. Whether you go for the descending version or not should depend on how common descenders are in other glyphs.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    edited May 9
    I think #3 is more... serene (at least in words that don't have a "Y" or "Q") but in #4 the "I" nicely has more presence. And this is not a serene typeface...
    I’m inclined to think that doesn’t matter.
    Sure it matters. The "IJ" is its own letter, so it should stray from an "I"+"J".  :-)
  • Theunis de JongTheunis de Jong Posts: 108
    In #1 the /i part is too small for my Dutch taste, but somewhat lesser in the otherwise comparable #3. Your #4, however, is excellent. It reads very naturally as an "IJ" ligature, not cramped, and that extra 10% (ish) length of the /i allowed by descending and slightly flattening the bottom of /j really helps.

    I don't mind the descending /j even if this is supposed to be all unicase. Perhaps your regular /j could follow suit.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,621
    Perhaps your regular /j could follow suit.
    I'm a fan of descending "J"s (unless the "Q" doesn't) but in a monospaced font that tends to harm spacing.
  • It is #4 or #3, here the lower ending of the J has its own life (unlike # 1 and 2, where it gets strained and forced into a U-ish zwangsheirat with I).
    I would prefer #3, it blends perfectly into the row of the other letters. Maybe the I could get a tiny little bit more length downwards.
    (BTW, the G looks a little bit too small besides the A.)
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 998
    Maybe the I could get a tiny little bit more length downwards.
    Yes, with 3 or 4 the terminals not lining up might give you license to let the I come down a touch further. 
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 26
    I agree that #3 is the both visually pleasant solution, but one small thing bothers me—the lack of a serif on the I component, although that may be pushing stylistic consistency a bit much. Still, a small serif on the inside bottom of the I would emphasize the Y insinuation. IMHO. I could be wrong. It sure wouldn't be the first time.
  • Ebern KlauseEbern Klause Posts: 46
    edited May 11

    Ha, interesting!

    The combination I J is a very strange one in dutch, in more than one way. 

    First: it is NOT a separate letter but a diphthong and it’s not part of the dutch alphabet. Still it is treated differently from other dutch diphthongs like OE, OU, UI, IE, EI and AU, especially when capitalized at the beginning of a name or sentence.

    Place names like Oegstgeest, Eibergen or Ouderkerk are not written as OEgstgeest, EIbergen or OUderkerk, while a similar name like Ijmuiden is always, and should always be, written as IJmuiden. Nobody knows why, but that’s the way it is.

    Second: to complicate things there is the letter y, which IS part of the dutch alphabet. Ask any dutch person to speak out the alphabet and she/he wil pronounce y as ij, which is wrong. 

    IJ has a very distinct sound (in dutch it’s the same as ei) which I have not encountered in any other language so far. The german ei comes close but it’s not the same. Y on the other hand is pronounced like the dutch ie, or ee in english, as in free. So even most dutch are confused.

    Long story short: anything resembling a Y is a no go when making a I J ligature; they are two entirely separate things.

    And then there is the interesting case of Pim Fortuyn vs Johan Cruijff. Yes, Fortuyn has a y and Cruijff has ij, but uy and uij are pronounced exactly the same: as ui. 

    Cruijff is probably written as Cruyff outside The Netherlands because that’s easier to understand, but remember, the best voetballer ever is called Johan Cruijff. :-)

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
    Who actually uses the ij character? 
    Wiki says it’s on Dutch keyboards, but I checked out a lot of Dutch newspapers online, and they all have ij as two separate characters.


  • Theunis de JongTheunis de Jong Posts: 108
    edited May 11
    Who actually uses the ij character? 
    Wiki says it’s on Dutch keyboards, but I checked out a lot of Dutch newspapers online, and they all have ij as two separate characters.
    I haven't ever seen a physical keyboard with a dedicated IJ key (next to, rather than in place of an `Y`, which would be marginally acceptable), and the Wikipedia page I consulted bore a [citation needed].

    There may be a practical reason for it, too. What keycode should it produce? I could look it up but off the top of my head, I don't think pre-Unicode aware Windows (and even older, MS-DOS) fonts had both required glyphs /IJ and /ij.

    Circumstantial evidence: As a typesetter for 30 years, I've encountered more than a fair share of amateur typists' work – including stubbournly and consistently using O and l for every 0 and 1 (kudos for those among you who can recall where that came from!). I have only come across real ij characters in a very few WordPerfect 5.x/6.0 documents. It was for the absolute purists only, because the Dutch spell check contained both ijsvrij and ijsvrij. (To be fair, since not any font at the time actually contained the /ij glyph I had to replace it with i+j anyway.)
    In recent decades, the Unicode era, I cannot recall if I've seen the /ij glyph other than for educational purposes (i.e., in a sentence such as "there is this weird Dutch character combo ..."). I have encountered far more cases of hard-coded /fi and /fl glyphs (possibly because of other reasons, though. But still.)

    All in all: I applaud your efforts. But even if you plaster examples showing off the Dutch IJ all over the pages advertising your font, only a fraction of users will ever need it – Dutch users. And of those, only a fraction will know how to insert it with their current software. Everyone else will type I+J.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,869
    I haven't ever seen a physical keyboard with a dedicated IJ key

    They were common on Dutch typewriters, but fell out of use when computer keyboards were imported.
    it is NOT a separate letter but a diphthong
    A diphthong is a phonetic phenomenon, not a graphical one, and plenty of writing systems record diphthongs with a single letter.

    I know Dutch people who consider IJ as a separate letter and Dutch people who don't. Officially, I think it is not, but it behaves as one for various purposes, including casing and accenting. My clients at Brill use the dedicated characters in Dutch text, and have custom keyboards for that purpose. They want to ensure that case mapping and accenting behaves properly, and that is easier and more reliable with the dedicated characters than e.g. relying on OT language system tagging.
  • Jasper de WaardJasper de Waard Posts: 460
    edited May 11
    Who actually uses the ij character? 
    Wiki says it’s on Dutch keyboards, but I checked out a lot of Dutch newspapers online, and they all have ij as two separate characters.


    The IJ and ij character, if designed like a ligature (otherwise it's pointless), get some usage now and then. To really go all the way, you might also consider a IJ and ij character with two acute accents: https://glyphsapp.com/tutorials/localize-your-font-accented-dutch-ij
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
    It’s enthralling for me as a type designer, like the capital Eszett, even though doing anything other than slapping together the glyphs for I and J makes zero business sense!
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    While the Dutch "ij" character isn't included in ISO 8859-1, it was included in the Dutch version of 7-bit ASCII with national-use characters: IJ replaced \, and ij replaced |. Another Dutch version of 7-bit ASCII (NRC, IBM 1102) only had ij, and it replaced [ instead, I now have learned.
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 606
    Is making IJ as a discretionary ligature with the language tag NLD any good?
  • Who actually uses the ij character? 
    Wiki says it’s on Dutch keyboards, but I checked out a lot of Dutch newspapers online, and they all have ij as two separate characters.


    In my collection of 50K most frequent words for each of 2,300 languages ij only appears in language code ksh, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colognian_dialect. I guess Colognian has no established writing system, as other German dialects like Bavarian don't have a single writing system established as a standard.

    IMHO ij appears in older texts.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
    edited May 15
    Is making IJ as a discretionary ligature with the language tag NLD any good?
    The problem is i-j sequences such as in Beijing, for default ligatures <liga>, but it might work as discretionary <dlig>—if users aren’t tempted to apply it globally to a large chunk of text. But that would be their responsibility.

  • Ebern KlauseEbern Klause Posts: 46
    A diphthong is a phonetic phenomenon, not a graphical one, and plenty of writing systems record diphthongs with a single letter.
    In dutch we speak of ‘tweeklank’ or literally ‘two-sound’. When searching for a translation I always get ‘diphthong’. Of course, a tweeklank is also a phonetic phenomenon. It’s graphical representation however has no separate name so it’s called tweeklank as well as far as I know.
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