Latinized Greek

John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
edited November 8 in Technique and Theory
A Brazilian pianist has an extensive series of videos on YouTube, which contain nice music.

In his latest video, he is accompanied by a flautist, who has included a message of love in the video (where the ad banner may cover it).

It's in Greek, but the typeface is thoroughly Latinized. It took me a while to find a typeface that presented Greek in this manner, but I eventually found at least one: Monotype's Century Regular. I knew it was possible to do this, but I was not sure that anyone had gone ahead and done so.

Finally, on Luc Devroye's site, I found more examples: Linotype New Century Schoolbook Greek and Linotype New Baskerville Greek, and three Greek typefaces by Magenta, their versions of Garamond, Bodoni, and Souvenir. (Ah, these examples came from a paper by Yannis Haralambous; I had read it and seen them before, but I had forgotten all about them.)
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Comments

  • Jan van Krimpen's Romulus Greek: "Hold my beer."
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2439855845/
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 8
    I will admit that I think that even a typeface such as that has a legitimate use. Not for writing the Greek language, of course. But if, for some reason, it were desired to add Greek letters to the Latin alphabet, then they would have to "fit in".
    Searching for more information about Romulus Greek led me to this interesting article on the general topic by Robert Bringhurst.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,565
    edited November 8
    Indeed any typeface can be useful. Even Helvetica.

    The problem is leaving the impression that Latinization should be a mainstream goal. More broadly, promoting the belief that geometric congruence across scripts is the principal foundation for dignified multi-script typesetting. To me that's not remotely the case, because a shape conveys meaning largely –although notably not entirely– in the context of the given culture.
  • Hey, John, thanks for the link.
    Searching for more information about Romulus Greek led me to this interesting article on the general topic by Robert Bringhurst.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 8
    The problem is leaving the impression that Latinization should be a mainstream goal. More broadly, promoting the belief that geometric congruence across scripts is the principal foundation for dignified multi-script typesetting.
    My initial reaction would be that surely this is a non-problem, as very few people would fall into that error.
    But along with Armenian and Greek, which are borderline cases in the sense that Latinized versions of those scripts are at least an obvious possibility, there has been a Latinized Hebrew, and I've even seen a Latinized Chinese character typeface. (Latinized Gujarati has happened too; since the characters are not joined in that language, I guess it was sort of "obvious" too.)
    Since most Latin typefaces include accented letters, one can invisibly mix French or Spanish or Portuguese or Hungarian in English text - and so if one takes that as the standard, I suppose the idea that being able to do the same with Greek is a more "dignified" treatment of that language is at least possible to entertain.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,680
    My initial reaction would be that surely this is a non-problem, as very few people would fall into that error.

    Really? That has not been my observation. Or more accurately, there are a significant number of people who do not think it is an error. That includes graphic designers or beginning type designers who are native users of the writing system in question—some of them are often among the most ardent “reformers.”
  • I've been accused of Latinizing Greek in the past, when my actual goal was to geometrize it... it would be great to have a reference of what Greeks consider sine-qua-non for a functional Greek alphabet, and what aspects are up for experimentation. Gerry Leonidas' site is very extensive but makes few concrete recommendations to that end (last time I checked).
    I'm actively trying to keep my Greeks Greek in my subjective framework of what comprises Greeknes these days; no idea whether it works... but I'm certainly having fun with it. :grimace: 

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    My initial reaction would be that surely this is a non-problem, as very few people would fall into that error.

    Really? That has not been my observation. Or more accurately, there are a significant number of people who do not think it is an error. That includes graphic designers or beginning type designers who are native users of the writing system in question—some of them are often among the most ardent “reformers.”

    Well, I thought I had noted that while it was my initial reaction, further thought showed that it was in error, by describing the many attempts to Latinize scripts, and one rationale that might be used to justify the practice.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,449
    edited November 8
    I don’t consider making Greek less “scripty” to be Latinization per se, but modernization, or internationalization.

    I don’t believe Greek typography today is a monoculture that requires political correctness. As I see it there are certain academic and conservative forces at play, as well as more commercial and innovative designers, attuned to international trends. I take account of both when designing Greek glyphs, but ultimately the dominant factor is, “what works best for this particular typeface?”

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 8
    I don’t consider making Greek less “scripty” to be Latinization per se, but modernization, or internationalization.

    I don’t believe Greek typography today is a monoculture that requires political correctness. As I see it there are certain academic and conservative forces at play, as well as more commercial and innovative designers, attuned to international trends. I take account of both when designing Greek glyphs, but ultimately the dominant factor is, “what works best for this particular typeface?”
    I am glad to see the argument presented for the opposing view.
    If it were just political correctness - or, worse yet, nativist nationalism - that leads a minority to react against Greek-language typefaces that are stylistically similar to serif Roman, I would be unsympathetic to the reaction.
    Although I don't have first-hand knowledge of the situation, however, it appears to me that instead the situation is instead analogous to that of the attempts to make a version of Hebrew printing in tune with the Latin alphabet. That is, because it is basically unprecedented until fairly recently to do the Greek lower case this way, so I suspect that it just looks weird to ordinary Greeks, and is therefore harder to read.
    If the younger generation in Greece itself were behind this change, that would be one thing, but if it's due to intellectual laziness by outsiders, it's another. In the case of Armenian, the Latinization was clearly an outside imposition, but now that an entire generation is used to the new forms, it may not be possible to go back.
    In a way, it is unfortunate that this kind of lower-case has not established roots in Greece. The "scripty" lower case and the upper-case that is clearly in the same tradition as Roman monumental capitals... clash. The clash is avoided with sans-serif typefaces like the "New Hellenic". But the traditional upper-case, and the traditional lower-case, both lack a partner that is organically-connected.
    The cause of this, of course, is the long period of time which Greece spent under foreign occupation, during which printing in Greek was suppressed. So Greek typography may not be a "monoculture", but it needs to make up for lost time. And this isn't work that outsiders can do for Greece; they need to find what works for them, and what expresses the genius of their script.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,664
    edited November 9
    The high point — if it can be called that — of Latinised type design for Greek script as a cultural phenomenon in Greece was almost half a century ago. We can probably stop talking about it now and just enjoy the varieties of Greek types being design today, few of which are strongly Latinised.

    If you do want to spend time thinking about this, you might start by reading Tatiana Marza's paper on the subject.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,680
    BTW, my comment about young new type designers who are native to the writing system being among the most eager to Latinize it was not Greek-specific. I was thinking more of Arabic when I wrote that, and should have said so, seeing as the primary thread topic is Greek Latinization, even if it has created discussion about Latinization in general.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 9
    In the version of Tatiana Marza's paper at that link, identified as partial, I couldn't find the information I was looking for to help in looking into this further. But I looked at about a dozen recent Greek books on the Internet Archive, and I could find only one or two in a typeface I considered to be Latinized. And, in addition, I saw something encouraging: some typefaces that did have serifs, but only in what seemed to me to be appropriate locations that avoided putting the typeface in the Latinized category.
    Thus, here are mu and eta from what I think of as a Latinized typeface:

    and here are eta and mu from a typeface which has serifs, but is not Latinized:

    Maybe some would still consider this Latinization, at least to a degree (the right side of the mu in the latter case might be considered to have been gratuitously changed) but having serifs where they make sense, but avoiding the locations where the serifs look like an effort to slavishly copy the Latin-alphabet Roman style impresses me favorably.
    Perhaps the boundary here is between being Latinized to a grotesque degree, and just being Latinized, rather than being Latinized and not being Latinized, but accepting an outside influence without vitiating the essential spirit of the script is acceptable from my viewpoint.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,428
    edited November 9
    The bottom sample still looks quite Latinized to me, and the empty stem ends look amputated to me. I'd at least give them some thickening toward the end, and a hint of curve. And maybe it's better to use a style of serif that would feel at home in an Italic rather than a Roman in the first place.
    (At least when I tried to geometricize Greek for Quinoa, I got called out for straightening those descenders and in-/outstrokes. I wonder whether Futura got the same kind of backlash from Latin traditionalists when it came out, though...)
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 9
    Here is a more extensive illustration of the two typefaces.

    The way they appear to me is that leaving the stem empty follows other Greek typefaces, while putting serifs even on the descenders is something that is completely alien and artificial, and shows the typeface is trying to slavishly imitate Latin.
    But that is only my subjective interpretation, and you may be right that something is missing. In general, typefaces of either kind were very rare, though, and the traditional kind of lower case, or sans-serif, were much more common and popular. It is the reaction of native speakers of Greek, of course, that is what is significant here, not how I react.
    From this illustration, one can see that in addition to the right side of the mu, the "less Latinized" typeface is more Latinized in another way; compare the shape of the alpha.
  • Can anyone think of examples of the Greekification of Latin typefaces? Apart from those corny angular faux Greek display types.
  • Can anyone think of examples of the Greekification of Latin typefaces? Apart from those corny angular faux Greek display types.
    At some point I experimented with a Hellenized Latin but didn't get too far with it. When I struggled to think of a way to make the uppercase interesting I bailed on the idea.

  • Surely you mean...

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,449
    edited November 10
    Here ya go Ray: Cleopatra.
  • Skia.
    (Full reply in time...)
  • Here's an example of Latinized Hebrew from no less than Eric Gill. I can't say anything good about it on any level.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 465
    edited November 12
    Here's an example of Latinized Hebrew from no less than Eric Gill. I can't say anything good about it on any level.
    Neither can I, except that at least most of the Hebrew characters are recognizable. The other famous attempt, by Hugh Schonfield, to bring the Hebrew script into the "modern" era by making it more similar to the Latin alphabet... didn't even have that virtue.
  • The serif design might be similar to Latin, but they’re used in a very different manner. Glyph shapes and stress remain Hebrew. I’d call that an ugly Hebrew font rather than a Latinized one. 
  • Neither can I, except that at least most of the Hebrew characters are recognizable. The other famous attempt, by Hugh Schonfield, to bring the Hebrew script into the "modern" era by making it more similar to the Latin alphabet... didn't even have that virtue.
    *googles*. Oh my:

  • Those are quite pretty if you ask me... :#
  • Those are quite pretty if you ask me... :#
    Yes ... pretty illegible to some who speaks Hebrew :D
  • To me that looks more Cherokeeized than Latinized. Though admittedly it's not particularly readable as either Hebrew or Cherokee.
  • I'll concur with everybody who says that both those Hebrew faces, especially the second, are quite dreadful (the second I would not have recognized as Hebrew!).
    As for Greek: I'm not a native Greek speaker, but I regularly read Greek texts and I think that there's a spectrum of Latinization and when it gets more annoying. If you get serifs on the bottom of the η, then I will question your Greek design choices. Another annoyance is when Greek math fonts are adapted to be used with Greek text... no, no, no!
  • Many people need Greek symbols for maths.  Should they be in a different unicode block or available as a stylistic alternative if they are different from the Greek used for writing Greek ?
  • There is indeed a different Unicode block for this purpose: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_Alphanumeric_Symbols; however, outside the context of some OpenType math fonts, I think the common practice is to use the Greek text block; (like "π=3.14…", etc.) You can do stylistic alternates if that's appropriate, I think, although I don't know of any family which includes them off the top of my head. But I can recall too many examples of Greek support consisting of adding the tonos (and not even the other accents, nor the breathings) to some glyphs clearly not designed for text and calling it a day.
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