Welcome to Typophile
Please Sign in.

Typography for marginal, non-latin writing systems

Primary tabs

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Aditya Bayu's picture
Offline
Joined: 29 Mar 2015 - 8:46am
Typography for marginal, non-latin writing systems
0

Hello to anyone reading this.

I primarily work with typographic design of the Javanese script, one of Indonesia's traditional script, here's an image in case you never saw it

It is a very marginal script, without official status anywhere and declining number of users despite it's long history. I was wondering if there are any other writing system with similar situations. I'd like to know how users of other marginal, non-latin script handle their typography. Though generally, I would like to know about the typography scene of other scripts other than Latin and Arab (since those two are the most prominent, is it?)

This is my first post in typophile, so apologies if I made any mistake :)

Andreas Stötzner's picture
Joined: 12 Mar 2007 - 10:21am
0

Welcome, Aditya.
It’s a very worthwhile undertaking to care for “marginal” scripts. I think many people do, actually. It belongs to our collective heritage and so it is all the way worth of being promoted.
For myself, I have done Irish and Coptic, Runes, Gothic, Greek, Old Albanian and perhaps a few more strange things. Because it interests me.
I’m not informed about the situation for Javanese. But, since there’s a Unicode page for the script at hand, no one hinders you or anyone to make nice fonts for the script and to distribute it.
I hope you keep us up-to-date!

Aditya Bayu's picture
Offline
Joined: 29 Mar 2015 - 8:46am
0

Thank you for the reply, Andreas
I too find it very worthwhile, I work mainly with traditional Indonesian scripts, namely Javanese, Balinese, Batak, Bugis, Sunda, and a couple ancient ones like Kawi and Pallava. Your welcome to view some of my works in https://www.behance.net/Alteaven, opinions are greatly appreciated.

But the difficult thing about them is the technical rendering. These scripts have fairly complex rendering, with regular diacritic stacking and sorts. I guess it's no harder than other Indic scripts, but the number of people using it is so little that of lack technical support is expected and hindered the designing process. A handful of font that are able to do this script is still cumbersome and not supported by all system.

And I also would like to know, in designing "marginal" scripts, how do you ask for opinions? For example, you know typography but you do not know the whole orthography for the script. Asking for opinion from the native users, they only comment on the incorrect orthographies (which is appreciated) but no constructive opinion for the typographic design. It's frustrating, because this is what happening to me, the market I'm targeting is not typographically conscious to be frank (squishing the fonts in photo editors, using psychedelic colors, gullible in calling every font good, and such).

Andreas Stötzner's picture
Joined: 12 Mar 2007 - 10:21am
0

Your works on Behance look very good!

> fairly complex rendering
what do you mean by that?

> how do you ask for opinions?

I try to gather your problem. Well, either you find people able for giving helpful critique – or you don’t. In the latter case: YOU are the designer. YOU make things happen. In the extreme, everything depends on your own insights and judgement. There’s no need to be afraid of that.
If there is a (pre-digital-era) typographic tradition for a script, this would be the starting point, naturally. If there is not, then the writing and lettering tradition/customs are the basis for your work. That is likely to be more difficult, but yet, more interesting as well. Ideally, you’d become a prolific scribe of that script before you turn to fontograph it. As for the graphic and aesthetic aspect of a typeface, good handwriting or manuscript sources are valuable references.
This is a very demanding task: you need to comprehend the system of the script and also the (technical) system of font/text processing/input etcª. Then you need to ‘map’ the script’s system onto the technical system, in order to make a proper rendering work. In any event of occuring difficulties just be creative.

When you work on minority scripts for which you can’t find useful advice, then rely on yourself. Then you’ll be the pioneer who is going to enable the community of that script to use it in a new way, maybe in the way they didn’t even dare to dream of so far.

If you face encoding-related problems you may contact the people of the Script Encoding Initiative, who helped a lot of ‘marginals’ in the recent past already.

Aditya Bayu's picture
Offline
Joined: 29 Mar 2015 - 8:46am
0

Thank you, I'm glad you like it:) Out of curiosity, which script did you find the most interesting?

Yes, I did learn to write the script first before making any of my fonts, and yes I do think it is an interesting challenge to make fonts for a script that anyone barely knows. But... Like, sometimes a native user said "the shape of this letters is not really legible", while I think it's still legible and I have a typographic background for it. I guess it would be better for me to hear a third opinion from a native user that also understand typography. But your words are truly encouraging, thank you. I'm more confident in my designs now.

About the 'fairly complex rendering'... Compared to latin, where characters are put side by side, indic fonts has conjuncts that are triggered with certain combination of characters, reordering of diacritics, stacking ligatures, etc. This is fairly common in other scripts like Devanagari and Thai, but they are far better supported because they have many users and thus, standard technical/input system in fonts. There are no standards in Javanese or Buginese, I can't release any of my fonts because they can't be used for typing, although I'm currently working with someone to address that issue. Hopefully it will be usable for public soon.