IJ-ligature fonts

T.'s picture

Inspired by this tread, I was wondering if someone could point me out some nice typefaces with an IJ-ligature.

Thanks in advance!

T.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Hi T,
I do not know if my Kurversbrug is 'nice' but at least it has the 'IJ' ligature.
http://www.re-type.com/fonts/kurversbrugreg.html

T.'s picture

(This tread is just out of curiousity, not with the intention to buy the font)

pvanderlaan's picture

The Cleartype fonts from Luc(as) -- Consolas and Calibri -- contain them. I think most of his typefaces do.

I think this glyph is re-appreciated again among Dutch type designers now that they can be safely put into OpenType fonts.

Quincunx's picture

Well, it needs to be more then just 'ij' placed together in one glyph for me to find it useful. With that I mean it has to have something extra like 'st' and such ligs have.

hrant's picture

Maybe turn the two tittles into a macron, or a tilde.

hhp

T.'s picture

Yes I agree Quincunx. What do you mean with tittles Hrant?

hrant's picture

Tittle: dot on the "i"/"j".
Fancy-pants word, I know - sorry.

hhp

T.'s picture

Jongseong's picture

The usual handwritten/cursive form of 'ij' resembles a 'y' with dieresis, with the end stroke of the 'i' connecting to the 'j'. For the UC 'IJ', I'm not really sure, but I guess a similar approach would be possible.

I must say that for upright romans, I would consider true ligation for 'ij' or 'IJ' as distracting as that for something like 'st' for use in immersive reading.

hrant's picture

Ties, is that something you just made or an existing logo?

Brian, I think that if it's done right it can be much better than something
like a frilly "st", not least because it helps properly encode actual language.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant: Well, I was a bit exaggerating, because I can already imagine the overdone 'ij' ligs drawing far too much attention to themselves. I think I can also picture it done well, though the way I'm imagining it, there need not be an actual connecting line between the ligated elements, and it would only work for certain designs--say, Fedra. Or it would be cool to have Martin Majoor design one for Scala.

I'll wait until I get on my home computer to illustrate what I'm on about...

T.'s picture

Hrant: No, that is an existing logo of Heijmans, designed by TBWA/Designers Company

I know a pretty cool one down the street, I'll try to make a picture of it soon.

hrant's picture

I think that "h" is gimmicky, but the macron
seems to stand quite nicely for "foundation".

hhp

T.'s picture

Your tilde-ligature made me think of this logo. I think it is quite nice, the "ij" reflecting in the "h".

hrant's picture

I guess "huisstijl" means something like visual/corporate identity?

I did notice the "h" being a flipped "ij", but what does that mean?
That the houses they build fall over easily? Or maybe it's to emphasize
the company's Dutch-ness, but isn't nationalism taboo in the Netherlands?

BTW, that Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen logo is amazing.

hhp

T.'s picture

> I guess “huisstijl” means something like visual/corporate identity?

Yes, couldn't think if it in English.

> but what does it mean?

Does it have to mean anything? You interpret the macron as the foundation, I just see it as a line.

[edit]This is why I think the "h" is just as gimmickly as the "ij". But still quite a nice logo.

hrant's picture

OK, your edit helps.

> Does it have to mean anything?

Not necessarily - although it's a plus, no?
I guess it could just be pretty - but is it?

The macron being in red seems to have a "special" meaning, and
the "foundation" meaning is the one that came into my own mind.

hhp

T.'s picture

> Not necessarily - although it’s a plus, no?

Depends I think. Depends on how litteral it becomes. So I guess it is a plus indeed when you can interpret it as a foundation.

> I guess it could just be pretty - but is it?

I think so too. I think it is pretty in a way.
This was their old logo. Since I study architecture, I happen to bump in the company's advertisements now and then. And I noticed the improvement. That is why it sticked in my thoughts. (One of the goals of logo's.)

Florian Hardwig's picture


The UC IJ can look like an “interrupted U”—as this Belgian sign shows.

Village's picture

In "standard" fonts, ideally I make ij's — pronounced ee-yay for you non-Dutch & Flemish speakers — so that the dots of the i and j components are a standard dieresis. The ij is the modern variant of the ÿ, and if you were to track a word with an ij in it, the ij would not become separated: B . A . K . K . E . R . IJ

Monospace fonts should have ij and IJ, as does OCR-B.

I always create ij's in my types. Sometimes some tweaking of the component forms is necessary, sometimes it's not.

Huisstijl means, quite literally, "house style", which is the Dutch analogue of corporate identity. Often, a huisstijl consists of a beeldmerk — picture mark = icon — and a woordmerk — word mark = logotype.

hrant's picture

Cap:

hhp

cuttlefish's picture

Regarding the "heijmans" logo, I see it like this:

The "h" is interrupted in a stencil cut fashion. This is inconsistent witt the rest of the word, but since this form is reflcted in the "ij" with a hooked foot on the "i", I, as a non-Dutch reader, interpret it as a stencil cut "y" (since the "h"" prepared me for reading through more stencil cuts), and thereby wind up pronouncing the word more correctly (hey-mans) than I would if I had attempted to through ordinary English phonics (hëzh-mans) rather awkwardly making up sounds for letter combinations usually absent in my language. I don't know if this was intentional, enabling more correct pronunciation by foreigners, but that's how it works for me.

hrant's picture

Ah, the stencil effect has to do with construction!
(I think design studios should hire me as a Post-Rationalization Consultant.)

hhp

Choz Cunningham's picture

Speaking of stencils, the upcoming expanded release of !Crass Roots includes about twice the glyphs of the Open version, and uses a method very similar to the previous image.

Jongseong's picture

This is how I would do an 'ij' ligature in a roman text face if I were limited to making a 'true' ligature, i.e. one where the components are connected.

Still, my preferred 'ij' solution would simply be just 'i' and 'j' brought together in a single glyph with minor adjustments to allow them to harmonize. I'm not sure what readers unfamiliar with the 'ij' digraph will make of the above ligature.

And I don't really see how one would make an uppercase 'IJ' ligature of the connecting variety in the same style. I think the components in 'IJ' really should be kept separate, either maintaining their original forms or perhaps modified to suggest an interrupted 'U' as in Florian's example above.

Making the 'ij' resemble a 'y' does benefit the foreigners, whether that is intended or not. In fact, the Dutch often 'internationalize' the spellings of some proper names by replacing 'ij' with 'y', so that the footballing legend Johan Cruijff is better known as Cruyff abroad, and Feyenoord of Rotterdam were originally Feijenoord before they changed the spelling for the benefit of foreigners who trouble pronouncing the original spelling.

T.'s picture

> The UC IJ can look like an “interrupted U”—as this Belgian sign shows.

Yes! That is something I wanted to photgraph as well. Nice.

> Monospace fonts should have ij and IJ, as does OCR-B.

And another font which has got it!

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I think that in roman a connected ij-lig is unwanted. It would draw too much attention and interrupt the flow. But italic is a different story: I'd love to see all fonts with fancy connected i-j's. (Doesn't make OT having alts easy? So…)

Quincunx's picture

> This is how I would do an ‘ij’ ligature in a roman text face if I were limited to making a ‘true’ ligature, i.e. one where the components are connected.

That is a very nice 'ij' if you ask me. It's how it is written by hand in Dutch, anyway. If it will work well, I don't know. But it's quite close to how I would imagine a true (dutch) 'ij' ligature.

hrant's picture

Sorry, I don't think it's any good at all, because it's
extremely confusable with the y-diaeresis. The fact
that there's some historical link between the two is
largely moot - there's also a historical link between
the "i" and "j", but isn't it kind of a big plus that we
can distinguish between them?! :-/

hhp

Choz Cunningham's picture

The link sounds current, not historical. Once we assimilate the Dutch into the U.N.A., the IJ will be no more. Mwa ha ha .

Si_Daniels's picture

Surprised no one has mentioned that ij and IJ have Unicode code points... http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0100.pdf so no OT is required and that they are part of the WGL4 standard http://www.microsoft.com/typography/OTSPEC/WGL4C.HTM so many fonts, esp the bundled ones, contain them.

hrant's picture

> ij and IJ have Unicode code points…

And so does y-diaeresis. As in a separate one. Case closed.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture


Is this ligated ij OK for the normal italic?
Or would it be better in the swash alts?

Jongseong's picture

Wanting to distinguish 'ij' and 'ÿ' in print is the reason why I do not advocate a true ligature for 'ij'. But that's the internationalist perspective in me speaking. Yes, of course the Unicode Consortium distinguishes the two, because it is an international standard.

For Dutch use, I don't think there is reason to fear the confusion. In a lot (most?) of Dutch handwriting, 'ij' and 'ÿ' would be virtually indistinguishable precisely because there is no semantic need for distinguishing between the two. 'Y' is not used in native Dutch words, so I'm guessing 'ÿ' would be extremely rare to the point that the 'ij' or 'ÿ' confusion would be a false dilemma when applied to Dutch--the 'ÿ' is a false alternative in Dutch, and in Dutch minds perhaps even considered a variant form of 'ij'. It is nothing like the relationship between 'i' and 'j', each of which has its own independent uses distinct from the other in most modern languages using the Latin alphabet.

This of course does not apply when you want your text typeface to work for languages other than Dutch, in which case 'ÿ' may very well be used.

On a somewhat related note, in setting Dutch a ligated 'ij' distinct from 'i'+'j' would be a plus in that it helps distinguish between the digraph 'ij' and cases where the letters 'i' and 'j' are not part of a digraph, as in words like 'bijou' from the French. So a true 'ij' ligature, while not appropriate for most text setting, may be useful in things like dictionaries or textbooks for learners of the Dutch language.

hrant's picture

I'm not sure how useful the concept of a "true ligature" is.
Is mine a true ligature? If not, does that mean the "i" and
"j" are not "true" letters, because they have more than one
part? Also, as Legato demonstrates, ligation can be "virtual",
via the white.

> I don’t think there is reason to fear the confusion.

No too much, I agree; but there's even less reason to revere history.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant, you're right; 'true ligature' is a problematic term. I just wanted to refer to forms where there are joins between (the black parts of) the components. Yours would be true ligatures in the sense that I was using the term--they are certainly distinct from 'i' and 'j' next to each other.

I wanted to introduce the distinction because the term 'ligature' is ambiguous (although I probably caused more confusion in the process). Was T, in his original question, referring to fonts that simply have glyphs for the 'ij' digraph? Lots of fonts do, but most use forms indistinguishable from 'i' and 'j' next to each other. I surmised he wanted to know about fonts that do more than that.

The 'virtual' ligation you speak of is just another name for the harmonious fitting of the black and white letters, which good designs should be doing anyway between any pair of letters.

>there’s even less reason to revere history.

History? I was basing my suggestion on current handwritten forms. I don't even know if the resemblance between 'ij' and 'ÿ' has a historical basis, and I suspect they really don't--it's probably a chance convergence. I just wanted a form that makes the most sense to the modern Dutch speaker.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Perhaps 'contiguous ligature' or 'joined ligature' might be a better terms. Lengthy, but how often need it be so distinguished?

ij and IJ have Unicode code points…
And so does y-diaeresis. As in a separate one. Case closed

Ha ha ha, right. Because Unicode is The Truth, not a cobbling of backwards compatibilities and porkbellies. I'm sorry Hrant, Unicode is going to have to be around a lot longer before it is the international Rosetta stone.

This of course does not apply when you want your text typeface to work for languages other than Dutch, in which case ‘ÿ’ may very well be used.

I think that language tags make that simple.

John Hudson's picture

Jongseong: Yes, of course the Unicode Consortium distinguishes the two, because it is an international standard.

Actually, Unicode encoded the Dutch IJ/ij digraphs as distinct characters, separate from the I+J and i+j sequences, because they were pre-existing characters inherited from a Dutch telecom standard. For the most part, Unicode does not encode digraphs. But some are encoded for backwards, roundtrip compatibility, as in this case.

For the most part, Dutch users do not use the digraph characters -- although some, like Thomas Milo, certainly advocate its use -- they just type I+J and i+j. So far as I know, the IJ/ij digraph characters are not accessible via the standard Dutch keyboard.

T.'s picture

> So far as I know, the IJ/ij digraph characters are not accessible via the standard Dutch keyboard.

No they aren't. Do Dutch keyboards exist? The normal way in Dutch to type an "ÿ" is just "ij". For me, as a dutchman, the uppercase is sometimes odd, not the lowercase. We do type the uppercase as an "IJ" (a I+J), but it sometimes just lookes silly. As in de the river "IJ" (Amsterdam).

Choz Cunningham's picture

Do dutch font users want a feature in their fonts to automatically ligate those, whenever they type 'i', 'j' or 'I','J'? Is 'I', 'j' wanted as well?

John Hudson's picture

Do Dutch keyboards exist?

Yes. There's a Dutch keyboard standard, although apparently relatively few people use it. It is very similar to the US qwerty keyboard layout in the normal and shift states, but has the euro symbol accessible using AltGr+E and some other symbols and punctuation not mapped in the US keyboard.

John Hudson's picture

Choz: Is ‘I’, ‘j’ wanted as well?

Officially, no, because the digraph cases as a unit, so it is always either both letters uppercase or both letters lowercase.

Jongseong's picture

I don't think automatic ligation is the best option because not every 'ij' combination in Dutch is the digraph (even if for 99% of the time it is). The 'i' and 'j' might come from different syllables, or it might be a loanword.

My take: to use special 'ij' and 'IJ' ligatures for Dutch, one should manually search and replace the 'ij' and 'IJ' combinations in the text, taking care to make sure to replace only when the digraph is wanted.

Cumbersome, I know. But unless one has a special reason for distinguishing the digraph and non-digraph combination of 'i' and 'j' (for specialist texts, dictionaries, language learning materials, etc.), I don't see a compelling reason to replace the lowercase digraphs with special glyphs. For the uppercase 'IJ', I can allow that for certain designs a special glyph for the digraph may be desirable.

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Brian, that's excellent advice.

hrant's picture

> I don’t see a compelling reason

Readability (via divergence).
Not in a major way, but not much in type is anyway.
We mind the details.

hhp

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Nick askes: "Is this ligated ij OK for the normal italic"

I prefer the connecting line between i and j to be an upward move. To illustrate this: the common way to write ij in cursive (handwriting is cursive…) is to basically draw a u and elongate the last downstroke. Am I making sense?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

To elaborate on this: Gerrit Noordzij has written extensively on 'writing' as the basis for typedesign and one of the first exercises in his 'course' is drawing 'waves' (up in a slant, down in a semicircle that smoothly turns into the upslant etcetera).

John Hudson's picture

Readability (via divergence).

I hadn't noticed that Dutch people had a problem reading. They have one, very regular digraph in their orthography. English has many, very irregular digraphs, and a couple of trigraphs. Digraphs are a feature of many alphabetic writing systems. Rather than assuming that visual divergence of digraphs assists readability -- really a kind of spelling reform, in which you invent new letters or diacritics based on merging or ligating digraphs --, it seems to me that we should try to understand just what it says about the reading process, and the flexibility of that process, that so many cultures and linguistic groups have adopted digraphs, trigraphs and even tetragraphs as part of their reading systems. The idea that sequences of letters can function equivalently to single letters in the representation of sounds is remarkable. It indicates that unitisation happens quite comfortably in the mind, relative to language and memory, independent of unitisation of written marks. Since unitisation of written marks is so easily achieved -- either through the invention/importation of new letters, ligation or use of diacritic marks -- it is notable that so many different orthographies should have instead adopted the use of sequences of existing letters to represent individual sounds.

hrant's picture

Gerrit Noordzij's views have merit in proportion to their distance from type.

> I hadn’t noticed that Dutch people had a problem reading.

People didn't think they had a problem walking before somebody
thought of shoes either. And I'm sure some people preferred to
believe that shoes were a damnfangled idea.

John, let's not get into this again - it's hopeless.
For whoever might need a fix, just use Google to search Typophile.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Bert: To illustrate this: the common way to write ij in cursive (handwriting is cursive…) is to basically draw a u and elongate the last downstroke.

But the style of lettering Nick is showing suggests a different construction, as the entry strokes on even the unconnected i and j indicate. As it happens, in most of the actual writing from which this style of type derives, it is unusual for the i or j to connect to a preceding letter in this way; but other letters may connect in this way, e.g. the sequence an.

So the kind of construction Nick shows is a viable feature of the style, and provides a possible stronger visual distinction between ij and ÿ, if one were seeking such a distinction. Of course, this connection is not importable to many other lettering styles.

hrant's picture

I liked Nick's (particular) solution at first, but then I started worrying about color. It would be interesting to see how it would look with the thick weight in the connection, and the stems light! But that might just look really crappy too.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

People didn’t think they had a problem walking before somebody
thought of shoes either. And I’m sure some people preferred to
believe that shoes were a damnfangled idea.

Well, the Masai don't need chiropractors :)

John, let’s not get into this again - it’s hopeless.

I don't want to get into the old discussion, but I am making a new point about the use of digraphs, which I think should be considered. I think they represent a very interesting and possibly enlightening aspect of reading, with implications for our understanding of notan, role architecture, the relationship of written to spoken language on the cognitive side of reading. They are a use of letters that, in purist terms, break the alphabetic model; and yet they are a feature of probably most of the world's alphabetic reading systems. Isn't that fascinating? Diverging them visually, i.e. making them look different because they represent different sounds, re-establishes the purity of the one-sign-one-sound model -- very controlling, very modernist :) --, but it seems to me that we should make an effort to understand just how they work, and in the process understand what kind of stress loads our impurely engineered reading systems can carry.

John Hudson's picture

Speaking of Masai, it is now possible to buy shoes that are designed to make you move as if you were walking barefoot.

There's probably a type metaphor in there somewhere. Maybe this.

hrant's picture

I made arguments similar to yours (although I admit not very well) at my talk in Thessaloniki in 2004, and on Typophile I have often presented the view that ligatures can be a lot more than merely pretty; but being a practical person, to spend more time on something like this I need to feel comfortable that the people I'm discussing it with harbor a nominal willingness to see the Latin script evolve, not because it's not really mine and I wouldn't mine, but because it's the most used script on the planet; and your closing with "it is notable that so many different orthographies should have instead adopted the use of sequences of existing letters to represent individual sounds" in that previous post discourages me, not least in its focus on spoken language, which is a chimera.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

The sample I showed was probably a bit too large.

The typeface is a revival based on several closely related types in one book (1869).
What prompted me to the ij ligature was the way that one of the fonts (above, "March") creates the effect of a partially cursive connected script. I decided to follow the lower model ("cardui"), disconnected, in my revival--although I have pondered doing a connected "Swash" version, along the lines of Danubia Script.

It's probably better to try out the options at text size, and consider that reading situation, rather than hypothesize by looking at the glyph in question, because the effect is quite subtle in text, given that the pot-hook serifs in this genre of typeface tend towards forming virtual ligatures at small size -- whether physically on the page, as the result of press gain, or in the reader's eye, as the result of visual bleed. Certainly, if this kind of thing is perceived in the parafovea, with its lack of sharpness, that would be expected. So it's probably a question of finding the sweet spot where the ij digraph is only as obvious as it needs to be for the typographic task at hand.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Hrant: People didn’t think they had a problem walking before somebody
thought of shoes either. And I’m sure some people preferred to
believe that shoes were a damnfangled idea.

A few years ago I read somewhere that the idea of making different shoes for the left and the right foot is a pretty recent one. Our ancestors have trodden earth for ages on identical shoes that took some time to set to the foot (or didn't they bother about separating left from right?).

At the present there is no real problem re the ij-ligature for dutchreading people — but there may be one in a few years if typedesigners introduce 'personal' designs for ij. Let's stick to what is accepted (the one in Johns illustration)…

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: your closing with “it is notable that so many different orthographies should have instead adopted the use of sequences of existing letters to represent individual sounds” in that previous post discourages me, not least in its focus on spoken language, which is a chimera.

What's discouraging about it? It is a phenomenon of alphabetic reading systems, and therefore something we should try to understand. It is also a phenomenon of alphabets that they relate signs to sounds, so I don't think I'm 'focusing on spoken language' by talking about alphabetic letters in the way in which they represent sounds. It's just a convenient way of describing what a digraph does. But let me rephrase it, to bury the reference to spoken language, and say that a digraph is two letters forming a single grapheme. Okay, put that way it's still a fascinating thing, because it demonstrates that we read combinations of letters -- within the larger combinations that make up words -- in ways that differ from how we read the individual letters.

The problem of ligating or merging digraphs is an orthographic one: digraphs are often irregular. Even something as regular as the Dutch ij has exceptions (although they are rare). English digraphs are very irregular. Consider the letter sequence th. This represents three different things: this, thought, hothouse. If one were to distinguish these three things visually at the glyph level, one would need a special dictionary driving the display to determine which form to use in which instances. The only way that it would be viable would be to make the distinction at the character level, i.e. spelling reform. In the case of th we could bring back ð and þ, and for sh we could adopt Pitman's ʃ. There are other digraphs and trigraphs for which we would need to invent new forms. But where do we draw the line on what should be a distinct new letter instead of a sequence of letters? What about consonant conjuncts like mpt as in 'empty'?

Of course, all these questions are questions about how letters map to sounds, and there is no other way to talk meaningfully about them. You accuse me of focusing on the 'chimera' of spoken language, but the whole idea of ligating digraphs is inescapably connected to the representation of sound, otherwise you are just making a script typeface with joining letters, not using the joins in a meaningful way. The difference between the th in ether and in hothouse, for instance, is that one is a digraph and the other is not, and this is determined by their pronunciation. If we pronounced them the same way, there would be no question of a distinction in text. Your chimera is inescapable, because an alphabet is a reading system, a writing system, and a phonetic notation system all-in-one. It's a delightfully messy way to communicate.

I need to feel comfortable that the people I’m discussing it with harbor a nominal willingness to see the Latin script evolve

The Latin script has evolved and will continue to evolve, so even to talk of willingness in that regard seems silly. It might not evolve the way you would like it to evolve, but it will evolve. What is unlikely to evolve is the spelling of English, for example, which is firmly rooted, if you'l excuse the pun, in etymological principles. In the context of new orthographies, e.g. for African languages, we've seen a lot of evolution, and much of it concerned with expanding the number of letters to enable a one-to-one mapping of sign to sound. Consonant digraphs seem to be very uncommon in these new orthographies, although doubling of vowels to indicate length is common.

Now, one of the phenomena of the evolution of the Latin script in the spelling of English is, ironically, that we abandoned the two letters ð and þ in favour of the single digraph of th. If we apply an evolutionary model to this, we have to accept that the digraph is 'fit', i.e. it has passed natural selection, which in this case means that we read it. This doesn't necessarily imply that the ð and þ were unfit -- Icelanders clearly don't think so --, and the reasons they fell out of use may not be related to readability at all. But it does indicate that there is sufficient readability in the digraph.

You will doubtless point out that sufficiency leaves room for improvement, and I'm not going to disagree with you. But in an important sense sufficiency is what readability is all about -- it is the baseline of what is readable --, and understanding what makes for sufficiency is the first stage of understanding how readability might be improved. This is why phenomena like the reading of digraphs is important, because they help us to think about what we read and how we read it. Ironically, they also push the 'chimera' of spoken language further away from what is written and read, precisely because their relationship to sound is irregular and impure, and the idea of ligating them to signal their reading moves them closer to phonetic notation. So I could say that you are the one who is focused on spoken language. :)

hrant's picture

> Let’s stick to what is accepted

You stick to what is accepted.

> the whole idea of ligating digraphs is inescapably
> connected to the representation of sound

I'm not seeing that at all.
But anyway the sound angle is not my main reservation here.

> sufficiency is what readability is all about

No, that's legibility.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: I’m not seeing that at all.

Let's see if I can figure out how you are seeing it then. Earlier in this thread you stated that you 'readability (via divergence)' was a compelling reason for representing the Dutch ij digraph as something other than the two individual lettersi, i.e. representing it as something other than a digraph. Can you explain what you meant by that?

No, that’s legibility.

I think one of the things you would insist on though is that mere legibility is not sufficient to readability. Indeed, if the terms are to be differentiated, there is an assumed qualitative difference. When I said 'sufficient' I meant sufficient to readability.

hrant's picture

Maybe we're using "digraph" differently. And/or maybe that doesn't even matter. My point was that representing the "i"-"j" sequence differently than an "i" followed by a "j", but nonetheless deliberative-decipherable as those two letters, would help reading. This is the basis, not sound (and not prettiness). You can use the fact that there's a pronunciation difference to convince people it's a good idea, but that's not really related to why it's a good idea. The reason it's a good idea flies over the head of laymen, which is typical of useful evolutions.

> When I said ‘sufficient’ I meant sufficient to readability.

But what you're describing does not fit my definition of readability.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW here's something (perhaps too playful) reminiscent of an idea by Smeijers:

hhp

Werfer's picture

Wow... I mean, I'm so... wow!! This is one of the best threads I have been reading so far here - and thank you so much for the many type samples!!

I do love ligatures very much.... it was just inspiring reading all this! Just had to say it!

T.'s picture

Perhaps I understand you guys wrong, but reading isn't a problem in Dutch. Context of surrounding letter make an i+j an "ij". I can't understand why a special glyph that represents this digraph would improve the reading.

Just as in the fi-ligature, it sometimes is a matter of colliding letters. As in the uppercase-variant of "IJ".

T.

Quincunx's picture

For readability such a glyph is not needed, it would be purely for style, I guess.
‘i’ and ‘j’ usually don’t collide either, maybe only in the caps variant.

hrant's picture

Yeah, we only really need Morse Code - the Latin alphabet is just for style.

hhp

T.'s picture

> ‘i’ and ‘j’ usually don’t collide either, maybe only in the caps variant.

What I mean is, in a fi-lettercombination, colliding is solved with an fi-ligature. With i+j this isn't necessary. (So I agree with you)

> Yeah, we only really need Morse Code - the Latin alphabet is just for style.

:S

and:

> Maybe we’re using “digraph” differently. And/or maybe that doesn’t even matter. My point was that representing the “i”-“j” sequence differently than an “i” followed by a “j”, but nonetheless deliberative-decipherable as those two letters, would help reading.

So I said, I don't think it will improve the reading, it will distract.

pvanderlaan's picture

> So I said, I don’t think it will improve the reading, it will distract.

Exactly. It is what is it: i+j is just ij. There's absolutely no need to make a visual distinction between the words ‘hijack’ and ‘hijskraan’.

The only compelling reason to give it its own unicode value is for sorting purposes.

hrant's picture

May Modernism die a swift and painful death, leaving mankind to flourish soberly.

And yet more ideas:

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: My point was that representing the “i”-“j” sequence differently than an “i” followed by a “j”, but nonetheless deliberative-decipherable as those two letters, would help reading.

Yes, I understood what you were saying. I was not asking you to repeat it; I was asking you to explain how.

You said that it would help reading 'via divergence'. Divergence from what? Divergence from i+j? On what basis do you determine a need for divergence? When does ij need to be distinguished from ij?

hrant's picture

> Divergence from i+j?

Primitively, yes.
But more deeply, from the (frequency-weighted) repertoire of bouma components.

> When does ij need to be distinguished from ij?

Frankly that seems to be secondary. First we need to establish the need, which we're already having too much trouble with. This sort of impediment is significant to me personally, because wanting to be practical I'm interested in improvements on the ground, not convincing one or two people in some hermetic discussion. If I don't see a good enough chance of my argumentative efforts leading to a better typographic "quality of life" (even if it's a tiny improvement) I just won't bother. This is why I won't touch spelling reform for example: no matter how much it would help, the near-impossibility of getting anywhere with it is a total turn-off.

But I know what you're trying to lead to: that the only "logical" basis for such a distinguishment is aural. I don't agree, because immersive reading is not about deciphering sounds, it's about deciphering boumas; so it's clear that the basis of the distinguishment must be visual, not aural. This is not to say that it's easy or even possible to implement a workable visual-based system of distinguishment; but just because an aural system seems more intuitive and is easier to pull off doesn't make an aural system worth carrying out - because it just can't lead anywhere useful. Better would be to not bother.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Grrr. F*cking buggy Typophile! I just wrote a lengthy response, only to have Typophile time out during the posting and lose the text.

I can't be bothered to write it all again now, but here's the summary:

Hrant: so it’s clear that the basis of the distinguishment must be visual, not aural.

You can't make a visual distinction based on a visual premise: that's circular. To say 'We will visually distinguish ligated ij from unligated ij' is tautological. In order to be meaningful, the visual distinction must represent something non-visual. The basis of the distinction must be linguistic.

[There followed a lengthy explanation of why linguistic does not imply 'aural', and why the term phoneme denotes a transcendent element of language that straddles the boundaries of spoken/heard and written/read language. I compared phonemes to Hrant's own 'bouma components' as things that exist in the mind, not in sound or on paper. I drew attention to the fact that reading involves the same language processing areas of the brain as speaking and listening, and asserted the parallel of textual language and vocal language as independent expressions of mental language. Finally, I considered how visual distinctions in alphabetic textual language can be cross-referenced to parallels in vocal language, since the alphabetic system is premised on such parallels, or may reference directly distinctions in mental language (as non-alphabetic writing systems remind us).]

hrant's picture

John, I feel your pain. Actually, I've felt your pain often,
and don't want to right now, so I'll keep mine even shorter. :-)

> The basis of the distinction must be linguistic.

If you mean "reading-based", sure. But most of your
argumentation, especially in the "ij" case, focuses
quite clearly on aural language, for example trying
to figure out when an "ij" is two sounds versus one
sound. My point is, that doesn't matter, and when
you look there you're not looking in the right place.

The "problem" is we don't [fully] understand reading, and this scares some people into looking for a solution elsehwere, anywhere - as if forcing a solution is better than simply marking a modest, nebulous improvement. But this hermetic, formalistic "solution-hunting" is, of course, entitely too Modernist to be actually useful to humans.

hhp

hrant's picture

Oh, and here's another attempt:

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, my earlier messages made reference to sound, but this is an example of making a distinction based on a parallel between textual language and vocal language. We do this sort of thing all the time, because it is in the nature of alphabetic systems. But as I concluded in my long lost message, this isn't a necessary approach, and the parallel should be considered coincidental, not causative; i.e. a distinction in textual language does not necessarily exist because of a distinction in vocal language, but because of a distinction in mental language.

If you mean “reading-based”, sure.

I mean linguistic: having to do with language, processed by the parts of the brain that deal with language, which don't make a distinction between vocal language and textual language. The parts of the brain that interact with the medium of language vary -- the parts that process hearing when we are listening, the parts that process sight when we are reading --, but the parts that process the actual linguistic content, e.g. Wernicke's area, do not vary according to the medium. To the brain, language is language, whether it is vocal language or textual language. The term 'phoneme' etymologically references sound, but linguists use the term to refer to a mental abstraction, not to sound itself. The point of a phoneme is that it is recognised as constituent of language, and that recognition happens in the mind. The terms phoneme and grapheme seem to me largely exchangeable*, and I'm not sure that there is any significant difference to the brain between elements of vocal language and elements of textual language, other than the paths they take to reach the language processing areas. Indeed, one can imagine those areas as completely unconscious of whether they are dealing with language as a result of listening or language as a result of reading: by the time they get the message, it is so far removed from what either the ear or the eye is doing as to make the distinction between vocal and textual language irrelevant.

When we talk about making distinctions between ij and ij, the reason for the distinction must be sought in language, i.e. between phonemes, and the question of whether it is textual language or vocal language seems to me avoidable, because what is being distinguished is essentially mental, and only accidentally visual or aural.** The actual visual form of the distinction is something to be considered in terms of perceptual processing, but the reason for making the distinction is linguistic. [Now, in many ways this whole thread is a really bad example, because in Dutch the ij is incredibly regular, and the circumstances in which a distinction would need to be made are incredibly rare; so rare, in fact, that it would make more practical sense to ligate the exceptions than to ligate the regular digraph vowel. But the principles of the discussion could be applied to a more complex and irregular example, such as the English th, th and th distinction.]

* The basic movements in sign language used to be referred to as cheremes, but this term was dropped when it was determined that there was no difference in the mental abstractions between vocal language and sign language: now they are called phonemes. I suspect a fuller analysis of written language -- bearing in mind that until recently most linguists have simply ignored textual language, treating it only as a notation system for vocal language -- may likewise remove the distinction between grapheme and phoneme.

** Unless, like some linguists, one rejects the whole notion of the phoneme as an essentially textual analysis of language, i.e. a product of literacy, whose primary purpose is categorisation of phonetics in a way that makes it easy to develop phonetically based writing systems. How's that for ironic?

hrant's picture

Actually in type design we're restricted to talking about perception, not cognition, at least not the sort of high-level cognition you seem to be referring to. By the time what you're talking about starts happening, the glyphs are long gone; ligation or not doesn't matter. Where it matters is in the more primitive bouma decipherment phase (and least that's what I've concluded). And this is why the distinction between an "ij" being one "sound" or two is misleading; we need to be looking at something less obvious, less literal, non-deterministic.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, did you read what I wrote? I'm not talking about sound. The distinction of 'ij' being one sound or two is as accidental as 'ij' being one letterform or two.

If either the distinction in sound or the distinction in form is to be meaningful then they must ultimately relate to something other than sound or form. The crucial distinction is phonemic.

Since the Dutch phoneme represented by ij is so regular, it is a really bad example. It is made worse by the rarity of the sequence i+j in other orthographies (I can't think of any English words in which it occurs). So let's look at the English th.

Let's say you determined that it would be a good idea 'for readability (via divergence)' to make a visual distinction between th and th (and perhaps also th). On what basis would you determine where to make the distinction: where to use one visual form and where to use the other visual form(s)? I challenge you to come up with any sensible basis other than a phonemic one (which is not to say a vocal/aural basis). [By the way, I can think of one other basis, but I'm not going to tell you what it is :).]

_____

It might be helpful to think of things like this:

vocal language
/
mental language
\
textual language

i.e. of vocal and textual language as independent expressions of mental language. What happens in vocal and textual language might be parallel, or might be divergent. Alphabetic reading systems tend to have a lot of parallels between vocal and textual language, but depending on spelling conventions they may also have a lot of divergences (English, for example, has a lot of divergences, because spelling maintains roots in preference to accuracy in representing pronunciation). [Ideographic reading systems are mainly divergent, and only occasionally produce parallels between vocal and textual language.]

In the case of English th, th and th we have a divergence between vocal language (which distinguishes these phonemes phonetically) and textual language (which does not distinguish them visually). The point I have made in the past couple of posts is that it is not necessary to reference vocal language in order to make a case for distinguishing the phonemes visually, because one can reference the phonemes directly. That is, one can appeal to the distinction in mental language, independently of the distinction in vocal language. The point I made in my earlier posts in this thread was that textual language can and does use identical visual forms for different phonemes -- especially when spelling is etymologically based -- and remarkably we read these accurately.

hrant's picture

I think you and I are smoking very different kinds of marijuana.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Thread hijacked by potheads.

paul d hunt's picture

or was that highjacked?

Choz Cunningham's picture

Hÿacked.

Nick Shinn's picture

If not a hijack, consider the Catalan character ldot.
Its purpose is to distinguish double-l where both l's are sounded, from the "dipthong".
(Interestingly, the double-l sound is a feature of Welsh, a language related to Catalan.

AFAIK, the distinction is often indicated by an underscore, as many fonts don't have the appropriate character. But why not set "periodcentered", as that is in most fonts?

BTW, which do you prefer, the dot vertically centred on the full character height, or on the x-height?

cuttlefish's picture

I think the punt volant of the ldot should be at the same level as the upper dot of the colon, depending on what the font has, but of course that wouldn't always work.

But back on point, even if they were Dutch words, neither in hijack nor in marijuana would the ij be typed as a digraph, since in both cases the letter pair spans two syllables. There could be a case for a "ju" digraph, since it is often pronounced as "w" rather than "hu".

hrant's picture

> a language related to Catalan.

Who told you that?

> But why not set “periodcentered”

I thought that was the "official" way anyway.
Does Unicode have a seperate Catalan dot slot?

BTW in this case (and probably generally) I myself prefer the lower dot.

> if they were Dutch words, neither in hijack nor
> in marijuana would the ij be typed as a digraph

OK, but typing is even less relevant than language here...

hhp

cuttlefish's picture

No, Ldot and ldot are at Unicode points 013F and 0140, respectively, but periodcentered 00B7 is the glyph for the Catalan dot alone.

hrant's picture

So there's two ways to encode text with a Catalan dot... Is that good? I guess it can be, like by allowing different height dots for UC and lc, but still having a separate character that's only the dot (for whatever reason, like education). Hey, I guess I shouldn't be the one to complain about complexity...

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

at the same level as the upper dot of the colon

IMO it works better at the mid-x-height, the height of a hyphen, which is a similar idea.

Who told you that?

Nobody. I was getting it confused with Breton.

periodcentered 00B7 is the glyph for the Catalan dot alone.

I didn't realize the periodcentered was for that.
As a typographer, I've often used it in all-cap settings, and as a "bullet lite".
In my fonts, I generally align it vertically centred with small caps, which also works as a light bullet, and, as it happens, also aligns with the dot in ldot that Hrant and I prefer.

Nick Shinn's picture

Continuing the hijack, I found this:

http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/Articles/tb16-3/tb48vali.pdf

Originally in 1906 the Catalan digraph was proposed as "a raised dot between two l's".
Since then, learned minds have been trying to pin down how much raised, and how far apart the component l's.

But is that really necessary? Why not leave it to typographers and type designers? Look at the Euro symbol mess, when orthographers went too far.

IMO, the proposal in the Catalan pdf document for a cap serifed L-dot is poor typographically, as the serif and dot collide.

BTW, it appears that the use of an underscore is an artefact that occurs when periodcentered is substituted in fonts and there is a mixup of coding.

John Hudson's picture

Okay, let's dope this hijack, because I don't want Hrant to get off the hook of the j and avoid having to account for why he thinks ligating the ij might be good for 'readability (via divergence)' if not to distinguish phonemes.

So forgetting Dutch for the time being, let's look at marijuana and hijack in English (the former is an imported Mexican Spanish word, and the latter is of uncertain origin, but let's consider them fully naturalised). Hrant, do you think it might be good for 'readability (via divergence)' to distinguish the ij in marijuana from the ij in hijack? If so, please explain on what basis.

hrant's picture

Seeing this larger rendering I now think it's actually a hair too low.

> the Catalan digraph

Trigraph?

> Why not leave it to typographers and type designers?

That's effectively what happens in practice, necessarily, always.
Freely ignore the bureaucrats.

hhp

hrant's picture

> why he thinks ligating the ij might be good for ‘readability
> (via divergence)’ if not to distinguish phonemes.

To distinguish boumas, obviously.

> do you think it might be good for ‘readability (via divergence)’
> to distinguish the ij in marijuana from the ij in hijack?

Not too much, because their boumas are already very different.
But Dutch having many more "ij"s harbors more opportunities.

hhp

T.'s picture

Bijna, leuk, buiten, auw, beurtelings, irritatie.

> Inspired by this tread, I was wondering if someone could point me out
> some nice typefaces with an IJ-ligature.

> Thanks in advance!

> T.

Choz Cunningham's picture

I think a short explanation of the distinction of *-eme and bouma unit might be in order. Hrant, go first.

hrant's picture

A bouma is a unit of perception of visible language; it's nebulous, variable, dynamic and subconscious. As opposed to a unit of formal, conscious language, the stuff people think they're reading.

hhp

Choz Cunningham's picture

What necessitates this being subconscious? Couldn't be complex, apparently contradictory on the surface, and only forced into the subconcius after conscious effort? And must this contrast with grapheme, Is the definition of a grapheme currently inadequate and unscientific?

From the definition, a bouma sounds as real as "santa" or "microbes".

hrant's picture

> What necessitates this being subconscious?

Speed. Consciousness is too slow.

> ... only forced into the subconcius after conscious effort?

I'm not totally sure I understand you, but if I do: as a rule things go the other way.

> bouma sounds as real as “santa” or “microbes”.

I don't know how your kids fare on xmas,
but I do envy you for never getting sick.

hhp

Choz Cunningham's picture

>> What necessitates this being subconscious?
>Speed. Consciousness is too slow.

At first. But people learn letterforms slowly, then develop it. And this can be repeated with first exposure to new languages with different diacritics, or with fractur faces, display runes or or other alphabets.

>> … only forced into the subconscious after conscious effort?
>I’m not totally sure I understand you, but if I do: as a rule things >go the other way.

Spelling and multiplication are learned, and then drilled into reflex responses. I'm think Pavlov disagrees with that rule.

>> bouma sounds as real as “santa” or “microbes”.
>I don’t know how your kids fare on xmas,
>but I do envy you for never getting sick.

I'll get back to you on the first part. :) What I meant was that the concepts of microbial life were once mythic, ineffable, hard to describe consistently and thought of as "spirits", then innate humors, then "corruptions", then airborne bugs, etc. We know a bit now, and realize that it is rather complex, but they are real, and have observable functions and limits. With time and observation, they became clear and more real.

Perhaps I should have compared it to a Krakken, that in time "became" a Giant Squid. I am still intrigued by this.

Would you say that a grapheme is made of boumas?

Choz Cunningham's picture

BTW, which do you prefer, the dot vertically centred on the full character height, or on the x-height?

x, with OpenType alternate for all caps settings?

hrant's picture

> But people learn letterforms slowly, then develop it.

People learn letterforms slowly, then it "clicks": moves
into the subconscious. So yes, learning goes that way, but
perception (the application of learning?) goes the other.

> the concepts of microbial life were once mythic ...

Yes, that is our general current state with the understanding of
reading. A term I like to use here is "subvisible": just like you need
a microscope to see microbes, you need the right "tool" to "see" it.

> Would you say that a grapheme is made of boumas?

Mostly the other way around. A bouma is as large as possible, for speed.

hhp

Choz Cunningham's picture

"Mostly the other way around. A bouma is as large as possible, for speed."

Click. Got it.

John Hudson's picture

We might actually be getting somewhere.

As I wrote earlier, I think the terms phoneme and grapheme are exchangeable, and the latter term is probably redundant, since both refer to perceptual units in language processing. In the same way that phoneme is used to refer to the mental abstraction of units of both vocal and sign language, so it may be used to refer to the same abstractions in textual language. To the language processing areas of the brain, language-is-language-is-language. But for the purposes of this discussion, let's stick with grapheme for now, so long as we're clear that a grapheme is something in the mind and not something on the page.

Now, if we flesh out the notion of bouma and relate it to graphemes in the way that Hrant suggests, i.e. a bouma is made up of graphemes, then it's clear that we're looking at a different kind of perceptual unit, a unit in visual processing on its way to being broken down into units of language processing. The bouma, like the grapheme, is something in the mind, not on the page, but it's being handled by the parts of the brain that deal with visual perception not language cognition. Is this a reasonable statement, Hrant?

So I begin to see how you might make a distinction between e.g. the ij in two different Dutch words based on bouma divergence, but only in terms of adjacent letters, i.e. as part of a larger bouma of more than the single grapheme represented by the ij digraph. Is that the point?

hrant's picture

> both refer to perceptual units in language processing.

No; in immersion, neither.

> a bouma is made up of graphemes

Note my "mostly" perviously.
Seeing a bouma strictly as a compilation of graphemes is counter-productive.

> on its way to being broken down into units of language processing.

Broken down, or built up? I'm not sure.

> Is that the point?

I think so. I'm proposing that the linguistic-analysis
relevance of "ij" is secondary and maybe even misleading.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

No; in immersion, neither.

Again: language-is-language-is-language. We don't have special areas in the brain the process language differently depending whether we are reading 'immersively' or not. What happens before language gets to that stage, e.g. in vision and in perceptual processing, may be different, but phoneme and grapheme are terms that specifically refer to mentally abstracted units of language; they refer to what we recognise as units of language. Whatever else happens on the page, in the field of sight, in the eye, and in the visual receptors of the brain and the synaptic passage to those language processing areas, at some point you are dealing with phonemes. [Unless of course the phonemic model of language is incorrect, but -- very ironically considering your position -- the linguists who reject the phonemic model do so on the basis that they consider it a literary construct, i.e. inherently connected to writing and reading.]

Seeing a bouma strictly as a set of graphemes is counter-productive.

I agree. I think of bouma as one or more (usually more) features in a role architecture (to use Peter Enneson's phrase). So a bouma may be made up of features that happen to correspond to discreet graphemes, or may be composed of fragmentary features from different graphemes. One of the implications of this is that a single grapheme may contribute to multiple boumas (although, practically, probably not more than two).

Broken down, or built up? I’m not sure.

You can't build up to a phoneme because, by definition, the phoneme is the smallest recognised unit of language that contributes to the identify of a word. But if you think of boumas as package data, you could imagine phonemes being 'recompiled' from bouma perception. So let's imagine that the reader 'sees' two boumas, each of which includes features from a particular phoneme. At some point in word recognition, that information has to be re-organised by the brain so that the phoneme is identified. [Phoneme identity is crucial to word recognition, because the phoneme is the smallest unit of language that contributes to word identity, i.e. if you change one phoneme in a word, you have a different word.] So whatever role boumas play in the perceptual aspect of reading, at some point in the cognition aspect they must be translated into language, either by being broken down into phonemes (in the case of boumas made up of more than one discreet phoneme) or re-compiled into phonemes (in the case of cross-bouma phonemes).

I’m proposing that the linguistic-analysis relevance of “ij” is secondary and maybe even misleading.

That depends on whether, in terms of overall reading speed -- i.e. of the combined perceptual processing and language processing operations -- there is a net benefit to boumas corresponding to discreet graphemes. There may well be, in which case linguistic analysis would be an important tool in figuring out optimal bouma divergence. And even if there is not a significant gain in correlating boumas to graphemes or grapheme clusters, there might not be any converse gain, i.e. it might not matter one way or another whether boumas correlate to graphemes.

But the linguistic analysis does provide a methodology for approaching super-letter design issues, and I think this thread demonstrates that. We simply wouldn't be talking about the ij digraph and its possible divergence in boumas if not for the fact that it represents a discreet phoneme in Dutch. And I notice, with significant irony, that all of your proposed ideas for different graphical representation of ij are made in isolation, i.e. not considered as part of larger boumas. As such, I think they're basically arbitrary, capricious design play. In order to make a serious case for divergence, you would need to identify potentially confuseable boumas involving ij, in which varying the representation of ij would disambiguate the boumas.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Are there any loan words in Dutch that are homographic to indigenous words, but pronounced differently?

ewalthert's picture

Just something came up by expanding TazIII at fontfabrik. By reading a dutch book I was surprised to read the word fijn over and over with a 'fi' ligature separating the 'j' form the 'i'. I would have posted it into this treat, but it seems to be closed.
My solution for this problem would be sub f j' j' by f ij; and sub f f ij.alt by f_f_ij.alt;. Sure including a language lookup so the Fijians still will have the f_i in front of the j.
The only page I found something about this subject so far was Sorting It All Out.

Aseptically if the dot of the 'i' is swallowed by the 'f' the wrong letters are bundled together :

vanblokland's picture

Personally I don't think the fi j n looks good. The f i j noption is better, or the f ij n in which the f does not ligate with the ij. When the kids learn to read, the popular vowel combinations ee aa uu oo oe ui ei ij are taught as single sounds which happen to be written with two letters. The ij ligature would be better, a u with a long j tail and a dieresis.

Miguel Sousa's picture

> My solution for this problem would be sub f j' j' by f ij;

Did you mean to say sub f i’ j’ by ij; ?

Personally I'd prefer a similar solution used for Turkish, and leave the 'liga' feature alone. Something like:

languagesystem latn dflt;
   languagesystem latn NLD;

feature locl {
   script latn;
      language NLD exclude_dflt;
         sub f i' j by i.dot;
} locl;

feature liga {
   sub f f i by f_f_i;
   sub f i by f_i;
} liga;

(This, of course, would be unnecessary if people were typing the character ij instead of the characters i and j.)

[Edit: Made small correction to the code]

neverblink's picture

vanblokland wrote:
When the kids learn to read, the popular vowel combinations ee aa uu oo oe ui ei ij are taught as single sounds which happen to be written with two letters.

But the difference between the 'ij' and other combinations, like the ones you mentioned is that they are not capitalized together (as T mentioned earlier in this thread). Wich to me suggest that we (the Dutch) 'can' see the 'ij' as a single (composit) letterform. I'm not aware of any other character combination, that gets capitalized together, even if they have the same sound as an 'ij' ('ei').

ie:
'ijs' becomes 'IJs' (translated: ice)
'eis' becomes 'Eis' (translated: demand)

Are there other languages where this is common practice? Or other character combinations wich get capitalized together?

edit:
I thought of the Spanish 'll' digraph, as I remember it being written capitalized together, but according to wikipedia, that was wrong.

This digraph is considered a single letter in Spanish orthography, called elle. From 1803 was collated after L as a separate entry, but this is no longer done: in April of 1994, a votation in the X Congress [1] of the Association of Spanish Language Academies ruled the adoption of the standard Latin alphabet collation rules, so that for purposes of collation the digraph ll is now considered a sequence of two characters. The same is now true of the Spanish-language digraph, ch. Hypercorrection leads some to wrongly capitalize it as a single letter ("LLosa" instead of the official "Llosa") as with the Dutch IJ.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ll

Bert Vanderveen's picture

W[h]ich to me suggest that we (the Dutch) ’can’ see the ’ij’ as a single (composit) letterform.

Very probable, considering the widespread usage of Y instead of IJ, especially in the 19th century.
And some dictionaries and encyclopediae used an extra chapter for IJ.
Also proof of this is that in some regions IJ is pronounced differently, eg ‘ie’ in the East.

(I am talking about the Lowlands, of course).

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

neverblink's picture

Also proof of this is that in some regions IJ is pronounced differently, eg ‘ie’ in the East.
Actually, I think that is a remnant of the origin of the 'j' shape itself.
Before the 'j' was a character, it was an alternative 'i'. A way to tell a 'ii' from a 'u', was to make the last 'i' longer ('ii' became 'ij'). I believe this was used in much the same way as a 'long s' was used, at the end of a syllable. An example of a common Dutch word, still in use, which has the 'ii'-sound, but is written with 'ij' is bijzonder (translated: special).

ewalthert's picture

Thank you all so far.
That ij is a separate glyph in dutch and needs special handling is out of question.
By discussing the case with Luc(as) we decided that Erik suggestion for using
f ij n rather than fij n makes totally sense.

As we are taking care of the glyph-order in the glyph-window in CS3 which is default set on 'sorted by Unicode' there is a new issue coming up.
If I use sub f i' j' by i_j (thanks Ms :) all the ligatures will not longer be placed behind the f. Just a detail but to avoid that i created a f_i_j and f_f_i_j ligature without connection to be used in Dutch, as long ij.alt is not applied.

I would be really interested if someone has a better approach for this problem or a suggestion how to handle it more elegant.

ewalthert's picture

@Florian: funny that I got on the subject by reading a book by Fiep Westendorp in which fijn is written always fi jn. This mad me think about the disadvantages of the nowadays easy and automatic accessed ligatures.
As you proof Miss Westendrop would have known better, but a Dutch book designer just did not think about this issue. Same case on the Dutch system of Mac OS X. A folder with nice pictures will be called fi jn beelden.

Nick Shinn's picture

a suggestion how to handle it more elegant.

Seems to be similar to the Turkish f_i situation.
For that, a "locl" feature with the use of a special "Turkish i" -- identical to the normal dotted i--has been recommended.

So perhaps a "Dutch j" is needed, for use after the letters fi, to kill the ligature.

In the locl feature:

Language Dutch
sub f i j' by DUTCH_j;

And later, in the liga feature:

ignore sub f i DUTCH_j;

Sorry if that's not the final code, but just thought I'd mention the idea.

neverblink's picture

Sorry for the bump, but I recently came across this abbreviation (initialism) for the first Dutch Railway company (HIJSM, 1839-1938) with the I_J put together, which made me remember this thread..

Thomas Milo's picture

Hi Nick,

The Turkish fi ffi issue is a good analogy with the Dutch fij, ffij. It's another argument to start using the proper Unicode character for Double I.

BTW, as a Turkologist I alerted Johan van Wingen of possible fi and ffi collision in Turkish for the first time some time in the late 1980's, when we were both members of the Netherlands Normalisation Institute's Work Group ISO10646 (later merged with UNICODE). It never occurred to me that Dutch has a similar problem. Thanks :-)

vincent_morley's picture

Before the 'j' was a character, it was an alternative 'i'. A way to tell a 'ii' from a 'u', was to make the last 'i' longer ('ii' became 'ij'). I believe this was used in much the same way as a 'long s' was used, at the end of a syllable.

This custom was followed when setting or writing lower case Roman numerals in various European languages. For example:
8 = viij
12 = xij
and so on.

quadibloc's picture

In English, fi is a ligature to avoid kerns colliding. But even so, it is still an "f" followed by an "i". In Dutch, the native ij combination is viewed as the 25th letter of a 27-letter alphabet; X IJ Y Z.

Making ij into a ligature would be done for two reasons - to follow normal Dutch handwriting in cursive fonts, and to emphasize to foreigners that this is as much "one letter" as the Russian "yerry" - which is not a soft sign followed by a (Latin!) I.

In some schoolbook fonts, ij is made into a something which sort of looks like a y, but the top is more like u (think of a handprinted g) - with dots over the two upstrokes. A picture of that was shown in the other thread. Probably "infant" fonts and cursive fonts would be the main use for an ij ligature, because the Dutch already see it as one letter without such help.

Florian Hardwig's picture

@John (quadibloc):
Here’s such a ligated ij, in a metal Infant version of Gill Sans.

John said:
In Dutch, the native ij combination is viewed as the 25th letter of a 27-letter alphabet; X IJ Y Z.

However, Dutch children are taught that the ligated ij is the minuscule equivalent to Y:

There are exceptions to this tradition, where ij and y are presented as two different characters:

Jongseong's picture

I can't help but notice that the infant Gill Sans sample is entirely in lowercase. Is this usual? Are children not expected to handle capital letters together with small letters yet?

Florian Hardwig's picture

Brian: Yes, in many teaching methods, majuscules are introduced only after the minuscules have been mastered.

Here’s a (rather rare) example of a ligated majuscule IJ in a writing primer. Only here it becomes clear that ij/IJ is not just i+j/I+J, let alone ÿ/Y.

hrant's picture

Funny, those green-yellow-red dots show where to start-change-stop
strokes, I guess. I myself would end up doing those just like I drive... :-)

hhp

Florian Hardwig's picture

[Off-topic] Bonus information for you, Hrant, as I know you are a big fan: These letters were digitized by Evert Bloemsma. (For further information, you’d need to contact Albert-Jan Pool.)

hrant's picture

Great to know! Thanks.

hhp

quadibloc's picture

Old computer printers and teletypewriter terminals had the minimum character set required to convey useful information. And so they only printed upper-case letters, and not lower-case. Some people decried this, on the basis that since lower-case is more legible, with ascenders and descenders, monocase output devices should have printed in lower-case only.

Culturally, that idea would simply have been unthinkable in the English-speaking world, at least. On the other hand, I remember seeing a short film about computer music research in Eastern Europe in which I did see such a teleprinter, along with computer magnetic tape that had sprockets like movie film.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

How to …?
.


.
– should the descender of the lowercase ij strech to the far left or not?
(the j has the shorter version)

– shall the all-caps version get a descender?

– any more comments?

pvanderlaan's picture

Andreas, in short a few remarks.

The lowercase version doesn’t look very readable to me:
– It seems too wide;
– And the dots don’t align with the stems which makes it look more like a ydieresis glyph.

From my own experience I discovered that a lowercase ij looks best when:
– It is slightly narrower than u;
– The dots properly align with the stems;
– The tail extends more to the left than the normal j, but less than a single story g.

But I am sure these rules will differ between the different styles of the typefaces again...

Hope this helps!

-Paul

http://www.boldmonday.com

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Paul,
thanks a lot for your comments, giving some notable insight!
The capital versions you obviously can live with …

A typophile’s compendium of such knowlegde would be my desiderate ;-)

A.

pvanderlaan's picture

You’re welcome, Andreas.

On second sight the cap version could do with a shorter I perhaps – this will seperate the I and J a bit more without making the glyph wider. Just to make sure that it won't be mistaken for a U when used in smaller sizes.

-Paul

whyawhelk's picture

As a Dutch reader, I have to agree about the dots. It looks like a y with an umlaut, and for a moment I thought it was a different language. The dots go directly above the stems.

I've grown very accustomed to the absence of a dotted ij ligature in the lowercase, there are very few fonts around that have them, and if they do, they're rarely used, certainly not in printed text like newspapers and magazines or anything anyone's made in a word processing program. As a result, when I do see it, I associate it with childrens' books, like the scans shown upthread. For that reason, for the lowercase, I personally prefer the descender that doesn't stretch to the left as far, it looks less like a childrens' book and is more reminiscent of the j descender that I've grown used to seeing. (Though it seems a tad short, maybe something in between the two.)

Edit: The cap is nice, I like it.

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