You can’t do this with an alphabet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-paciﬁc/3120229.stm hhp
That’s pretty interesting, the lettering under the symbol. I’ve never dabbled in such lettering, the kind of stretching of a caricatured Chinese calligraphic brushstroke around the latin letterform. Of course, there’s been, at least during the latter part of the 20th century, a broad range of such type styles. Generally used for lower-class (for lack of better english at the moment) settings. Such lettering has always struck me (as an omnicient observer) as a negative caricature. The way the old ‘Charlie Chan’ movie character seems to strike so many people today. Can any Chinese here comment as to how that lettering concept (not its mediocre-looking execution) aﬀects you? Is it an acceptable caricature? Or is it just benign? Is it appropriate for such a logo, regardless of who the logo might be targeted to? Thanks! Joe
I don’t think Chinese people can read any [non-Kanji] Japanese. — hhp
You’re probably right, but Japanese people can’t actually read Chinese either. We can just suppose some things. And thank you very much for the image! :-)
Jared, I remember that! That font of yours was one of the very ﬁrst -and coolest- things on Typophile. And “HRANT” is coming out OK, I think. BTW, you know what’s really cool? Some guy once told me that my name kinda sounds like “black dragon” in Mandarin. hhp
Yakuza is featured in Interrobang, a SOTA Journal that debuted at TypeCon2003. I think this is yet another sign that you should ﬁnish up the font for release, Jared.
Hi guys. Didn’t see this thread until now. Nice observations and comments from you non-Chinese! I think the whole design is horrible! A totally stereotypical, ‘Chinatown’ approach: red Chinese zeal, pictographic character complete with a supposedly ‘calligraphic’ typeface! Yikes! There’s simple nothing new about it. There’s much more to Chinese culture than zeals and calligraphy. We’re in the 21st century, man! Everything about this identity is clich
> zeal You mean “seal”, right? > Everything about this identity is clich
Rodolfo, thanks for pointing out that link — I’m not familiar with Paul Haeberli’s work, but found a working link here: http://www.otherthings.com/uw/alphabet/ I followed a similar process at ﬁrst — digging through hundreds (maybe thousands) of glyphs looking for characteristics that might match a Latin alphabet. In the end, however, I ended up redrawing and reinterpreting the forms myself. (A dangerous thing to do, without knowing what some of the shapes might mean!) I’ve been meaning to have a native Japanese reader look over the font before formally releasing it, to ensure that there’s not anything overly oﬀensive embedded in it.
It’s true, I let my enthusiasm for a great concept* cause me to assume good things about the overall. I accept that the execution seems very clich
I think the much more interesting and relevant thing is that the logo is also a word. The lettering below is “just there” — it isn’t the memorable component that will be “burned into people’s consciousness” as the article says. I guess it makes sense that a logography is better than an alphabet for logos! hhp
>But it looks wrong somehow… Yes, it should have three “legs”. >Paul Haeberli
The idea, in the hands of a better designer, might’ve worked. But in this case the execution is just really amateurish. They might have gotten away with it if they had done the red part better, but there is no way in hell they could’ve gotten away with the chop suey lettering. I always thought it was only the non-Chinese who would use such Chinese take-out font in association with all things Oriental (Chinese, Japanese, Asian, etc) I had always put it down to a lack of understanding of the Chinese culture on the part of the designers. But as I come across more of such designs done by Chinese themselves or commissioned by Chinese, I think it has less to do with understanding the Chinese culture than understanding design. > Can any Chinese here comment as to how that lettering concept (not its mediocre-looking execution) aﬀects you? I cringe. > Is it an acceptable caricature? Or is it just benign? I think it’s unacceptable. But seeing that the “clients” are Chinese themselves… It can’t say it’s the brush strokes that broke the lettering, and made it a caricature. Because I have here a good example of brush stroke lettering. Also used for a Chinese-related subject.
> done by Chinese themselves Yeah, that’s the saddest, and it happens all the time, especially these days. And to give a great historical example: in the 1970s the Greeks themselves were mostly responsible for the bastardization of their own script. The good news is that there’s a strong correction going on now. hhp
Looks like it’s a huge step backwards from the logo they used in their bid.
Woah, I like that loopy thing a lot better than the logogramme they picked. It is a step backwards :sigh: Decision by committee sucks.
i think the red seal thingy is decent, but the lettering just plainly sucks. reminds me of some horrible chinese restaurants’ logos and cheap online freefonts. the bid thing is so much better. Anyway, it seems that ppl designing for the olympics tend to use “traditional” elements of the country’s culture and stuﬀ see for example the one for the olympics next year http://www.2004.gr/Templates/5615/IMG0.gif i think it’s good, not anything special, but yet good.. thank god they didnt use some ancient looking greek font. what really sucks is the mascot selection — these are supposed to look like dols made around 700 b.c. (they are in the top right http://www.2004.gr/ﬁles/aboutathens2004/pins.jpg http://www.neolaia.de/2opseis/DaneiaeeU/periodiko10/Iaoeuo_2004/foibos.jpg oh, and also we should be really happy that the olympics are returning to their country of birth, getting rid of all that commercialisation: http://www.2004.gr/page/default.asp?la=2&id=2025 good god, they even sell toilet paper and boxer shorts with those 2 silly things on them the olympic torch has to be the best designed item, the industrial designer who made this was inspired by the olive’s leaves http://www.2004.gr/page/default.asp?id=9143&la=2 ––––- when i ﬁrst read hrant’s post, about the “bastardisation of greek language”, i didnt really understand what he meant (i am greek btw, or hellenic if you prefer the term) i saw the light a few minutes later, you are probably speaking about the change in our language. We moved from the polytonical(many tones) to the monitonical(one tone) system in the 1970’s. Let me give a lecture. After the greek revolution in 1821, the newly founded country had to determine it’s ethnicity. So, apart from the religion (orthodox), they came up with a language that was neither like ancient greek, nor like the one ppl were speaking back then, but a pompous mix of both. This mixture was named “katharevousa” (“pure/clean/clear language”) and it was declared oﬃcial language of Greece. Now, ancient greeks only had uppercase letters and had no problems in pronounciation (they knew it by heart)(ﬁrst texts in greek are dated around 1200 b.c.). However, after alexander the great (who conquered, in today’s terms, pretty much the whole of greece, egypt, turkey, iraq, iran and went all the way to india and that was around 320 b.c.), the language had to be simpliﬁed. I think they started developing lowercase around then too. Anyway, to ensure that everybody got the pronounciation right, they made 3 diﬀerent tones and 2 other symbols (the exact translation would be spirits — nothing to do with demonology though) One tone to signify that you had to heighten your voice in that syllable, another meant that you had to lower your voice, a third meant that the toned vowel had to be pronounced twice. The other 2 symbols had to do with the pronounciation of the ﬁrst letter, if there would be a thick or thin sound of an “h” to it (“hercules”, “hypnopaedia”, “hellas” and many other h- words are taken from greek and the special “spirit” for a thick “h” sound has been replaced by the “h” letter). These symbols also had a use in spelling correctly when creating compound words. However, all this signs no longer serve a cause, because the ancient way of pronouncing has been long forgotten (even the byzantines didnt know it)… They only served as a helping hand (or not?) in learning and spelling correctly. The whole katharevousa thing created a gap between simple folks and writers/oﬃcial texts etc.(they didnt understand it). They thought that the only way to enrich the current language was to ﬁll it with unusable ancient terms — big mistake. It was like you had to use 2 diﬀerent languages, one for everyday speaking and the other for writing oﬃcially. It was replaced by modern greek once the army dictatorship was over, in 1975. Ever since the oﬃcial language is “modern” greek, which has no “spirits” and only one tone, that shows which syllable has to be heightened. Oh, and we still use a lot of ancient words “as is”, without having to use the weird forms of “katharevousa”. So i really don’t know what that “correction process” you are talking about is.
Wow! That bid logo is wonderful. I wonder if the olympic committee shut it down (maybe resembling the oﬃcial olympics logo too much?)
a couple of notes: The alphabet has stayed the same ever since ancient times. The same 24 letters are being used today. And for the sake of our ethnicity, plz use the term hellenic rather than greek hellenic and greek are both names of males mentioned in ancient greek mythology. They are both sons of Deykallion and (cant remember her name), the only couple who survived the ﬂood Zeus created to destroy mankind. However “greek” was used during the turkish period of slavery (1453-1821 roughly) and “hellenic” is the oﬃcial name now accepted greek is not wrong, just out of date and tact
> bastardisation of greek language Actually, I was talking about the script, not the language — the way it started looking very Western/Latin especially in the 70s — but now there seems to be a correction going on. I know even less about the Greek language than its script — which is why I appreciated the mini lesson! Thanks. > plz use the term hellenic rather than greek That’s gonna be a tough one… hhp
>I think the much more interesting and >relevant thing is that the logo is also a word. That is fascinating. The kind of convergence that’s very lucky in logo design. Joe
hehe, now that i re-read my humongous post, it was like i was bitching, i had no intention to do that plz tell me where you heard that info from in the age of globalisation pretty much all languages are taking in words and phrases from foreign languages such as english or french in our case writing greek in latin characters might have been a hip for some lame restaurants to attract tourists. nowadays that script change is needed on the net. greek ppl in chat rooms write greek in latin characters to ensure that their messages is read (incompatibility issues, lack of fonts etc) that new way of writing is called “greeklish” (“greek-solution” i think it means, although the orthography is wrong) unfortunately there are many spelling issues when writing in greeklish — the letters are diﬀerent, sound diﬀerent etc for example we have three letters that sound like “i” (they kinda look like i,h,y) however many a times they do get replaced by just “i”, so the language really loses it’s richness
Well, that’s interesting too :-) but I’m talking about the normal Greek/Hellenic alphabet becoming more Latinized, for example by acquiring too many serifs. http://www.themicrofoundry.com/ss_rome3.html hhp
ok man, i quickly went through this article of sorts, it just talks about the ancient way of writing the caps changing to more ﬁxed characters after the romans conquered “our lands”. this is really true, but has nothing to do with today’s world Anyway, you know, the greek alphabet is like the latin’s alphabet dad. Greeks copied most of Phoenicians’ letters back in 1500 — 1300 b.c. or something (adding a lot of characters, especially vowels — the phoenicians had none), and then the romans adapted a special form of the greek alphabet which was used in north greece i think, and naturally added some characters, making the arithmetic diﬀerence… 24 letters in greek, 26 in latin. (just to clear something up, the phoenicians were an ancient tribe of traders. they lived around Israel-Palestine-Jordania) i think i’ll stop being a history teacher right now…
Perhaps we need a new Greek type thread? The change in fashion of Greek type design to which Hrant refers is not intrinsically related to either the change from polytonic to monotonic (never complete) or the longer history of language change. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Greek graphic designers and publishers wanted types that were ‘modern’ and which looked as much as possible like the popular Latin types of the time. Linotype, who had a virtual monopoly on typesetting systems in Greece, duly provided Greek designs of bestselling families like Helvetica, Baskerville and New Century Schoolbook. In all these designs, drawn by Matthew Carter, a deliberate eﬀort was made to introduce as many Latin forms as possible, and to attach serifs wherever possible (Matthew jokes that he was surprised the Greek clients didn’t ask for serifs on Helvetica). The proportions of the letters in these designs derive directly from the Latin (themselves constrained by the unit measurements of previous typesetting systems), rather than being tailored to the Greek alphabet and the frequency of letter combinations in typical Greek texts. Wherever possible, Greek letters were formed simply by adding to, subtracting from or rotating Latin forms; the Helvetica Greek lowercase sigma, for example, is simply a latin o with a stick coming out the side. To be fair to Matthew and his colleagues at Linotype, who now acknowledge that these designs are neither attractive in themselves nor authentically Greek, it is necessary to state again that this is what the Greek market wanted. In 2001, when Linotype asked me to work with them to develop a large ‘core font’ version of Helvetica supporting multiple scripts. I suggested that we redesign the Cyrillic and Greek from scratch, rather than using Matthew’s 1970s version. Linotype deserve a round of applause for agreeing to this and paying for the design of a new, more authentic Greek rather than using what they already had. It’s still Helvetica, of course, so there is only so much one can do in the way of beauty and readability, but I think this comparison illustrates the diﬀerence in approach to Greek type design as it has changed over the past thirty years:
Great summary! And equally great visual comparison between the old Helvetica-Greek and yours. Good going on the “redesign”, taking advantage of the fact that Greeks are a lot less confused now about what makes good type. > a deliberate eﬀort was made to introduce as many Latin forms as possible But fortunately they didn’t go as far as Jan van Krimpen (bottom row): That was just plain nuts. — In trying to ﬁgure out why some of the most talented Latin designers make the worst non-Latin fonts, I’ve arrived at the theory that pride in one’s own culture motivates creativity in it, but even if it’s justiﬁed it inhibits good design in other cultures. hhp
John, compared with the Carter version, yours has a number of slightly curved stems where he had straight ones: but not consistently. For instance, both pi and upsilon have straight vertical stems in the Carter version, but in yours the pi has straight legs, but the upsilon is quite curved. What principle are you using to determine whether stems are straight or curved?
I was wondering this same thing, Nick, thanks for asking. And as I’m not amongst the group of non-latin type design cognoscenti, this is really interesting to me.
> not consistently With respect to what, though? hhp
> >not consistently >With respect to what, though? I’m just comparing the two shown above. (Neither of which is like the version I’m familiar with from school days, Times, which is “italic”.) I realize that the Hudson version is not a “redo” of the Carter. I’m just interested in the design logic.
Joseph: >Can any Chinese here comment as to how that >lettering concept (not its mediocre-looking execution) >aﬀects you? I’m not Chinese, but as Japanese writing systems are basically derived from Chinese, I think I can comment on this. :-) Well, I don’t appreciate the concept of Chinese brushstroke style applied to Latin letterfoms. I think of it as a caricature too. The worst thing is that, very often, Chinese/Japanese people use this kind of lettering themselves. It’s like “self-caricature”… :-/ This Beijing-2008 lettering is quite acceptable though. The execution, I mean. Hrant: >it makes sense that a logography is better than >an alphabet for logos! (?) It sounds so obvious that I think I’m not getting what you meant here. ;-) Anyway, I don’t like this Beijing-2008 logo. The lettering is better. I think the “metaphor” is too obvious here. There’s no subtlety. The original Chinese ideogram is almost unrecognizable. And, in my humble opinion, it could be better executed.
i guess even today’s greek designers are not at all font-wise, probably because you can’t get any “oﬃcial” education on this. You can only attend classes at small ineﬃcient private colleges, for a couple of years. (There are only public universities in Greece) i dont ﬁnd the carter version so far from reality or horrible or anything. i am not sure if your newer version is more “authentic”. I would say it is a thousand times better executioned and very attractive. however, in essence, the lc sigma is an o with a stick. i also notice that you are featuring second (kinda unoﬃcial and calligraphic) ways or writing certain letters, theta and ﬁ. there are alternatives to sigma and pi as well, i can post a couple of images if anybody’s interesting ah, this is just great, i just remembered i have a small book on greek typography, 1499-1999… gonna get back with interesting images
> the lc sigma is an o with a stick Why? hhp
however, in essence, the lc sigma is an o with a stick. I completely disagree. The sigma is a single stroke without reversal: this is obvious if you look at Greek handwriting and at any of the Greek types prior to the 20th century.
i also notice that you are featuring second (kinda unoﬃcial and calligraphic) ways or writing certain letters, theta and ﬁ. there are alternatives to sigma and pi as well… I did draw a scribal pi for the Helvetica Linotype font, but I don’t like it so left it out of the specimen. This is a diﬃcult form to make convincing in this style of type. I did not make a lunate sigma.
Nick wrote: For instance, both pi and upsilon have straight vertical stems in the Carter version, but in yours the pi has straight legs, but the upsilon is quite curved. What principle are you using to determine whether stems are straight or curved? Do you mean pi or psi? I’m guessing the latter. It came down to a question of what works: the upsilon desperately needs the entry stroke and the curved right side. I could have carried this over to the psi, but I didn’t want the whole design becoming too cursive: I wanted to maintain some of the rigidity that is a hallmark of Helvetica. The psi works okay with the straight sides, and is a much less common letter than upsilon, so I think it can aﬀord to carry the rigidity.
> The sigma is a single stroke While I would say that the sigma is a sigma, and not any other letter. So the further it is from other letters (and not necessarily just those in its own alphabet) the better — as long as the requirements of decipherability and “belonging” are adequately met. The most important parts of a letter are its acrocratic features. Often there are things other letters don’t have — in the case of the sigma, its horizontal protrusion. So you could say that the sigma is a stick with a “o” coming out of it! :-) But ideally you want to reduce the “o”-ness of its “o”, maybe even by breaking it. hhp
i went through my book. unfortunately it didnt have much info. In the 15th-18th century most greek fonts were based on calligraphy and handwriting. From the beginning of the 19th century until today there have been some unique greek fonts, many feature serifs and remind us of byzantine writing. In the 50’s most typographers used linotype, in the 60’s it was monotype and in the 70’s it was oﬀset and phototypesetting. here are a couple of pics ﬁrst one is self-explanatory i guess second one was printed 1952, it’s from the textbook of ﬁrst grade — elementary school (they kept that book intact for 20-25 years) last one is my silly handwritting, just pointing out alternative ways of drawing some of the letters about the sigma sign, most ppl use the alternative way of drawing it, as it shows in 03.gif above. The sigma is for sure one stroked without reversal , and the way to draw it is to start making the circle from the highest point at the top and when you ﬁnish it to draw the horizontal line, all in one stroke (if you start by making the line ﬁrst, you’ll eventually end up making the alternative version). What i meant by that “in essence the sigma is an o with a line coming out of it” is that geometrically, that’s what distinguishes it from the rest of the letters. How do you know that the shape you are looking at is in fact a sigma?
> How do you know that the shape you are looking at is in fact a sigma? 1) You never know 100%. 2) It has the right acrocratic features. hhp
Which one is the Sigma?
sigma is the fourth from the top
> “self-caricature” Just like Latin handwriting fonts? :-) > I think I’m not getting what you meant here. Since an alphabet sequences phonetic codes to make a sound that’s a word, the results aren’t “elemental” in the way of a logography. > The original Chinese ideogram is almost unrecognizable. Is it possible that it’s not a character used in Kanji (Chinese loan to Japanese), or maybe it looks diﬀerent in Kanji? My computer bag has four Chinese characters on it, and I once asked a Chinese, a Japanese and a Korean person to read them to me. The Japanese and Korean only got 3 right. Try your hand at it! hhp
It’s the one that looks like a cursive “o” then? You can make it look like a “G” and it’s still the same letter?
yeah, it’s the same thing if it looks like a G-6 or something which for me raises the question, how we know which letter is which, even if it doesnt have the same acrocratic features (i guess that’s the basic shapes it’s composed to, for this one a line and a circle) in this particular case, you will only understand it’s the same letter if you try handwritting it both wsys, as i explained in a prior post i think (trying to do the same shape, but starting from a diﬀerent point)
A tidbit from the current Icograda newsletter: ” Morisawa Font By Shinnoske Sugisaki, JAGDA, Japan A poster for a well known font foundry in Japan ‘Morisawa.’ Innumerable Chinese characters are enumerated in order to express the numerousness of the character set. In Japan, more than 3000 Chinese characters (ideogram) called Kanji are used together with Japanese characters (phonogram) called Kana. More than 1.5 billion people in the world use Chinese characters with the same meanings but with diﬀerent pronunciations. This design is transformed three-dimensionally to express today’s advanced technology of fonts used in computers and the Internet. Please view in Galeria > http://www.icograda.org/web/galeria-current.shtml ” hhp
Honestly, I didn’t like this poster. I am tired of full-color-gradients and 3d-lens-eﬀects. But thanks for the link, there are some interesting stuﬀ there. This one is a nicer one, in my humble opinion.
>Just like Latin handwriting fonts? :-) Ha! Good one! ;-) >Is it possible that it’s not a character used in Kanji (Chinese >loan to Japanese), or maybe it looks diﬀerent in Kanji? Actually, the ideogram used there seems to be in the “ancient” style. AFAIK, it’s not actually used anymore, in current language. Anyway, it’s not that important, and it’s not what bothers me most on that logo. >The Japanese and Korean only got 3 right. I assume they misread the 3rd one (top to bottom)? It looks ambiguous to me. >Try your hand at it! 1st: “ten”= heaven 2nd: “kan”= bureaucrat, government (according to the online dictionary, I think there are other meanings, but I can’t remember right now) 3rd: ? 4th: “fuku”= fortune, luck All of them in Japanese pronounciation. Did I embarass myself, giving you all wrong answers? ;-) Who drew those letters in your bag? What’s the 3rd one? Now I’m curious to know what it means (the whole word)!