Applying Noordzij to Non-Latin Writing?

ThomasJockinThomasJockin Posts: 26
edited March 2012 in Technique and Theory
At the Arabic Workshop this weekend with Nadine Chahine, I found it really natural to apply Noordzij's Translation/Rotation/Expansion Model to the Arabic examples Nadine showed us. For those of you who have read Noordzji, what do you think? Is there a connection?

Also, has there been additional literature written by others that expand on Noordzji, related to Non-Latin? When I got back home, I re-read The Stroke and Letterletter and I noticed he made only a few references to non-latin writing:
One passage in The Stroke made reference to Arabic in the invention of the word space + "ligature" development. 
In Letterletter, he spoke of "Kai-Sho" as a kind of Interrupted construction, and "Gyousho" as a Returning construction in Japanese writing. 

Surely, there must be more out there on this topic.


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  • ThomasJockinThomasJockin Posts: 26
    edited March 2012
    Come on James, are you saying you *never* use terminology in discussing type or designing?
    I find Noordzij useful in designing, and am curious to see if his thinking as been applied to the Non-Latin arena.
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  • Michael ClarkMichael Clark Posts: 138
    edited March 2012
    I find that the intellectualizing is hindering qualitative discussion and a pursuit of creativity, at least on another "blog." It is almost as if it is a "show-off" display of typographic lexicon and overly self-absorbed academic dialog... and it gets in the way of innovative design. What once was a display of talent, creativity and facility in execution, the hallmark of a my favorite type designers, is now about coding, revisionism and serving the current trend as opposed to breaking new ground and not caring about who calls it what. And to be quite honest I found it offensive that two individuals continued to deride calligraphic efforts in type design-HP, or argue about technique,manipulation primarily, when they do not have a clue because they have never picked up a tool-WB.

    You want to see Noordzij's genius... look at his lettering work from the 60's and ignore his theory. "Writing on paper" is ultimately better than "thought on paper." I found more insight in his exquisite forms than I did in his book. "In doing there is knowledge." I learned from LOOKING at Poppl, Schneider, Zapf, Hoefer, Noordzij, Brand, Koch, Schmidt and many others. Did not care for the writings that surrounded them.

    As both a consumer, and producer, of type, I think Nike said it best... Just Do It :-) Sink or fail... lesson learned, let the market decide. Oh, and James... I go ductus hunting on the weekends, in season of course!    :-)
  • On the larger topic of terminology and theory; I use theory and terms when they are useful in working. If a term or idea doesn't apply to how one works or clarify an idea, what's the point?

    This is the reason I will never utter "ductus" in public; It doesn't add to the conversation, it only obscures. 
    Which is a real shame since I find my personal definition is really useful in how I work. [ BTW, James, this is why I chuckled a bit when you dropped "ductus" in our bar talk after Nadine's class ;-) ]

    Typerror, I'm reminded of Peter Bil'ak's article "We Don't Need New Fonts". Your concerns about revisionism and trend hunting, to me, feels like symptoms of people thinking the same. It's one thing to be able to draw and space type well; It's another thing to have an interesting outlook or point of view. Focusing too much on OpenType features or Python scripts misses the larger point of being a typeface designer.

    That's what I love about reading Noordzij; He made his own history and point of view about type. 

  • While I am a bit skeptical about Noordzij’s theory – and probably I should write about my very personal reasons someday –, I’ve seen many type designers whose results are very good, and they say Noordzij is a big influence on them. If applying Noordzij’s principles works for some people, then go ahead.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,098

    Michael, did you figure out the joining rules of traditional cursive script for yourself, either intuitively or by methodical study—or were you taught, either in person or from a book?

  • Michael ClarkMichael Clark Posts: 138
    edited March 2012
    I am self taught. In actuality I eschew reading the technical treatises and prefer just looking at the images/work that have/has "come before" me. I must admit that I have some reading issues that pre-dispose me to this form of discovery.

    Oft times, when I have designed and edited journals for calligraphic societies/guilds, I have been accused of being short on copy... my standard reply is that there is enough information in the images, why clutter them with "words" that do not mean the same thing to different people and tend to dull the ability to deduce and understand the forms. All one really needs is the image before them, why let someone clutter their thoughts with extraneous conclusions. This infuses the work that comes as a result with a unique fingerprint. My work resembles nobody else's because of this.

    Ultimately the process of breaking down "something" and then reconstructing the same relies on self-motivation and discovery. That way one is unencumbered by another's voice :-)
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,956
    Erik, is the original Dutch text of The Stroke as formal and dogmatic as the English translation? I sometimes wonder if the translation gives readers outside Holland a very different view of Noordzij’s ideas.
  • I read Noordzij's book because I think the world of his calligraphic work. I have to admit it was an endurance test for me.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,098
    I’m self taught as a typographer/type designer, but I’ve read a lot of books (although not Noordzij’s).
    I’d be nowhere without the Fontographer manual, first, and then the FontLab manual.
    I’ve also learned a lot of technical stuff online.
    I’m not too keen on readability science or hinting technology, but don't mind a little cultural theory.
    My main goal is to cultivate an obscure and refined taste.
    I’m not a complete Luddite—one has to master new technology rather than become its servant, and address its potential for creativity, not just define it as a more efficient production tool.
    In particular, OpenType feature coding has a lot to offer in making possible new kinds of typography—ironically, this is an area of type design that is sympathetic to the complexities of the ink-written/lettered form.

  • I taught myself Fontographer, same with all my programs. It is pretty intuitive as you know, but I never got a manual so it was "in for a penny, in for a pound." I really do not like Fontlab and so I turn over my expanded character sets to someone else. The "letters" interest me more than the coding. Ink keeps my interest and commercial lettering is a much larger chunk of my work than fonts.

    <My main goal is to cultivate an obscure and refined taste.>
    You are doing just that Nick :-) It is a shame that other obviously talented people are not doing the same!


  • @James. Noordzij's writing is pretty dense in any language. His lectures were much more accessible.
  • Erik, you are very lucky. I would love to attend one of his lectures and pick his brain. A very talented man!
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