Turkey: a new symbol for the lira

eliason's picture

News story.
To cut to the chase:

Nick Shinn's picture

Oh yeah, that will fit low res and Extra Bold Condensed to a t.

eliason's picture

"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the anchor shape means that currency is a "safe harbor" while the upward facing lines represent its rising prestige." (reports CBS)

riccard0's picture

I suppose they got tired of waiting to being accepted into the EU… ;-)

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Reminds me of the mess of the Euro-sign introduction years ago. Well, we fontists got it right in the end, at least. Despite of all the official shit.
But now this, I don’t know what to say.

J Weltin's picture

We will get this right in the end, too.

eliason's picture

What kind of contrast and terminal would you give that curved stroke in a seriffed typeface?

dezcom's picture

Would that be a phallucy?

Nick Shinn's picture

"… the umbrella shape means that the currency is “well protected” while the horizontal lines represent its solid value."

hrant's picture

I think it could've been worse.
Although it does look a bit too much like a weapon...

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

The symbol was the result of a competition, unfortunately not the best way to get a good design.

This is a typographic symbol, and yet, like the Euro, it was designed by someone who is not a type designer, and the criteria for judging would not, I assume, have had any mention of scalability, slant, weight variance or screen rendering.

You know, one line for the crossbar, rather than two, would have been just fine, and would have magicked away all kinds of monstrous type production problems that the double bar will create.

serdar's picture

The crossbar was parallel to the baseline in the winning entry but revised later by the in-house designers of Central Bank of Turkey.

Apart from the need to symbolize growth and rising prestige, another motivation for the revision, in my opinion, might be the fear of a resemblance to the Christian cross (which would be even more significant with a single line crossbar).

It has also been criticized by some to be the rotated copy of the Armenian currency sign (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_dram_sign).

All seven finalists selected by the jury:

quadibloc's picture

I would have thought that, given the name of the currency unit, they should just have taken a British pound sign, but modified it to have three horizontal bars instead of one (or two), instead of going with something completely novel.

In some subsequent searching, I've found that the form with two crossbars, although sometimes infrequently used for the British pound, was associated with the Italian lira as well, confirming my suggestion that the Turks would need to use three crossbars to have their own unique member of this family.

hrant's picture

Nick, for something like this you do want a type designer
consulting, but you don't want a type designer actually
making the final decision; for that you need an alphabet
designer. Those are pretty rare though. :-)

--

I think slanting the bars was an improvement,
since it balances the symbol better.

> It has also been criticized by some to be the
> rotated copy of the Armenian currency sign

If that's a coincidence, that's not so bad. If that's a
ruse to get Europeans to like Turkey more, that's not
good (simply because deceit backfires in the end).
If it's a genuine nod towards the need for honesty
in dealing with the Armenian Genocide (unlikely) then
that's awesome - just as impressive as the April 24th
demonstration held in Istanbul last year.

Even though I'm Armenian, the one thing I like about
the symbol is its gentle allusion of the Arabic past of
Turkish writing.

Looking at the 7 finalists, I would have put my
money on the middle one, since it does the most
to make Turkey look Western. But I still prefer
the one they ended up with.

> taken a British pound sign

!
Turkey is not part of the British Isles.
Lucky for Turkey.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

… for something like this you do want a type designer consulting …

At the very least.
As someone who will be required to adapt the new character to many different kinds of font, a type designer would, one hopes, address the issues of scalability, slant, weight variance and screen rendering — and make sure that the design brief requires each entrant to show specimen glyphs of how their proposed symbol would look in a variety of typefaces, styles, and media. Not just Univers 45 or whatever.

eliason's picture

What kind of contrast and terminal would you give that curved stroke in a seriffed typeface?

Answering my own question: the seriffed version could go in a number of different directions.


Barbed terminal on top right is for the literal-minded prime minister!

Andreas Stötzner's picture

It is NOT a new character. (!) There is the Lira sign existing at codepoint 20A4, typographically a variant of the sterling glyph. End of story. (Note that by annotation it is specified just as LIRA, not as Italian or Turkish Lira per se.)

Everything else is just nonsense.

If you wish now to tune the design of 20A4 according to the new turkish briefing, feel free to do so. But I won’t, because it’s rubbish.

And if ever our turkish friends come to raise the request of a new character before ISO, I will say: 20A4.

riccard0's picture

the Lira sign [...], typographically a variant of the sterling glyph
Etymologically it would be the other way around ;-)

If you wish now to tune the design of 20A4 according to the new turkish briefing
I wonder which Opentype feature would be best: Localized Forms or Historical Forms?

Andreas Stötzner's picture

… which Opentype feature would be best

It won’t matter. For the average user it will not be appealing, such niceties. It won’t help the “new logo” arriving in reality.
As long as they don’t sort out this business in terms of the existing LIRA sign, it seems all fairly rediculous to me. To pretend as if “a new sign for the turkish Lira” would have been something to invent at all, this is the initial mistake. And the story goes downhill from than on.

Khaled Hosny's picture

It is NOT a new character. (!) There is the Lira sign existing at codepoint 20A4 ...

Yes, just like the Rupee, oh wait.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

If ever there was case for contextual alternates, this one is: on a scale from 0 to 10 of course, from no prestige at all to the highest mark — and that could be tied to the S&P’s rating of Turkey!

(And why not apply the same principle to all other currency signs?)

hrant's picture

Andreas, why wouldn't the Unicode Consortium approve
a new code-point for the currency of a sovereign state?

hhp

evertype's picture

Hrant, the argument that this is a glyph variant of the existing Lira sign is not a particularly bad one.

But was anyone in Turkey using that anyway? It appears they just write TL.

evertype's picture

In handwriting no one will be able to write this really in any way other than an L with two horizontal strokes, I suspect.

I guess it looks like half a euro. ;-P

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:

> taken a British pound sign


!
Turkey is not part of the British Isles.
Lucky for Turkey.

Neither is Italy. But if Britain gets one bar, Italy two bars, and Turkey three, Turkey would still get its own codepoint.

Also, I'm pretty sure the relation to the Armenian dram sign is a coincidence. But possibly one so embarassing to Turkey that it will choose something else. Noting the finalists shown, it does seem that instead of being inspired by symbols for the lira and the pound, the chief goal in those submissions was to reflect the letters T and L. In the Latin script, which, of course, Turkey now uses.

I suppose using the Arabic script as a source of inspiration is right out for political reasons. And it's Iran, not Turkey, that would have the additional option of going back to cuneiform... ah, there is an "Old Turkic" alphabet, resembling runes, that they might consider.

hrant's picture

One problem with three bars is something already
alluded to: the crowding would be very troublesome
in terms of typeforms, especially in darker weights.

> so embarassing

Well, we have increasingly seen some gestures of
empathy... and even if those are probably mostly
a ruse to gain Western acceptance (as with the
switch to the Latin alphabet) the allusion remains.

Mostly though I think it's too subtle to really be
actionable by anybody besides extreme nationalists.

> I suppose using the Arabic script as a source
> of inspiration is right out for political reasons.

Actually the current Turkish regime is Islamist,
and Arabic is the language of Islam. In Iran for
example they learn Arabic simply to be able to
read the Qur'aan, even though they dislike Arabs.

In fact I think that middle one from the finalists
would have been the one chosen by the Secularists.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

This design, at least used with latin script, looks pretty poor to me. I hope it doesn't catch on.

riccard0's picture

I guess it looks like half a euro. ;-P
That’s what I saw too.

dezcom's picture

It should be something that a person could easily and quickly write with a pencil but still be clearly different from other glyphs and currency marks.

The non-chosen one [dead center on the image posted] looks to have the most potential.

serdar's picture

One of the finalists said it was rumored that the slanting revision was made by the prime minister himself.

I think it is quite possible that he might have contributed to the change; given his educational background the prime minister has to have a good understanding of Arabic lettering and as Hrant stated, the symbol in a way, tries to pay tribute to the Arabic calligraphic tradition.

John Hudson's picture

Andreas, while I dislike and see all sorts of design problems with this new Turkish currency symbol, it is clearly not a variant of U+20A4. The fact that both the Italian and Turkish currency units are called lira is beside the point: they are not the same currency, and the symbol represents the currency, not the name of the currency. Different countries may use the same currency symbol to represent different currencies -- e.g. $ which is dollar in some countries and peso in others --, and other countries may use the same names but different symbols (I can't think of one off hand).

eliason's picture

other countries may use the same names but different symbols (I can't think of one off hand).

The Philippine peso uses ₱, while most Latin American countries use $.

Si_Daniels's picture

>and other countries may use the same names but different symbols (I can't think of one off hand).

Pakistani Rupee vs Indian Rupee?

Andreas Stötzner's picture

> it is clearly not a variant of U+20A4 …

• It is a kind of L with a double crossbar,
• it stands for “Lira”,
• it is meant to be a currency sign.

What’s that other than 20A4?

The artificially “designed” symbol of the azerbaidshan currency Manat has been just recently rejected for encoding by ISO, because it was not shown in usage. For some good reason the international character set is not intended to present propagandistic logos or whatsoevers launched by governments to illustrate their pride.

If the “new design” comes in use in Turkey, I presume, then it will end up on the market blackboard looking more or less like ₤.

k.l.'s picture

Eszett Eszett Eszett ...

quadibloc's picture

@Andreas:
For some good reason the international character set is not intended to present propagandistic logos or whatsoevers launched by governments to illustrate their pride.

While I can support the sentiment, since pride and vanity are exaggerated in the types of autocratic government I dislike, it's not particularly unusual for any given country to have a distinctive symbol for its currency unit. Many do; others, in the past, have declined to do so because of economic factors.

Now that type doesn't have to be molded from metal, now that it is "soft", so that a new character which would obsolete a manual typewriter places no one's laser printer in jeopardy - poorer countries, which had to make do with hand-me-down type from other nations want their own symbols finally for their currencies.

This to me isn't the destructive evil pride of some preening militarist - rather, it is the desperate pride of those who struggle to maintain dignity while in poverty. That's something I am inclined to support rather than deprecate.

kongur's picture

To be honest with you when I first saw it on the Facebook stream shared by my friends from Turkey – I thought that it was a joke. I am ashamed and so embarrassed by the design which seems to me a failure. I presume it'll show its true face in handwriting. We'll wait and see...

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Someone told me the name lira was a tribute to Mussolini but, as John said, that’s beside the point.
I gave a workshop last year at a state university to push the students to think of that missing character as well as of other issues in the Turkish alphabet.
The slanted crossbar is a left “classic” to me since I noticed it in the paper.
Just like Gunnar, I do think that “design contests are usually a bad idea and a designer working back and forth with the commissioning agency might have dealt with a lot of questions including different serif variations before the grand announcement.”
The image that Serdar posted is from this .pdf – I didn’t expect to find the “altın oran” there, it is silly.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

> I presume it'll show its true face in handwriting

Yes I think so. It will find it’s master in the hands of ordinary people who have no reason for pretending to be designers.

> desperate pride of those who struggle to maintain dignity while in poverty

I have great respect for Turkish pride. And nowadays the Turkish nation is not that terribly poor and desperate as you might want to suggest. As a matter of fact, Turkey is a rather successful nation with a growing population. So far so good.

But all this is rather not at stake here. The presented “design” is based on a mental mistake (like it was with the official Euro sign) and therefore it will undergo substantial transformation or it will vanish.
The mistake is that the proposed glyph is meant “to look like a piece of design”, rather than to look like a natural currency character.

Pride or prejustice, that is the question.

Anyway, you can always go and furnish 20A4 with any glyph you like.
To my knowlegde there are only two countries with Lira left today, Turkey and Syria. But for Syria as an Arabic writing country the slot 20A4 is of no interest. So in fact, the point is finally left for Turkish conquest ;-)

Nick Shinn's picture

Is there any political message in this official announcement, with regards to Turkey’s membership of the EU, and possible adoption of the Euro, which would make the Lira obsolete?

hrant's picture

John, I think you're painting an overly negative picture.
I wouldn't talk about desperation in the context of Europe
currently... Somebody said Euro?

Ayse, maybe your expectations are too high? This is after all
a politico-bureaucratic thing. Or maybe you wanted something
more European, less religious? The shape of such a currency
symbol might improve outside views of Turkey in the short
term, but all that would do is delay an honest resolution of real
differences, which have to be overcome internally first. To
me alluding to the long and glorious Arabic past of Turkish
writing can only help. You don't have to be religious (I'm not)
to believe that.

Also, I would not rely on handwriting, for two reasons:
- You're going to get regional variations, plus even in a
given region it's going to take a while for it to stabilize.
You don't want to wait a couple of decades just to settle on a
final country-wide symbol, especially since it could be worse.
- Whatever casual handwriting produces is only elegantly
typographic by dumb luck; the typeform derived from such
a model would probably be either ugly or highly divergent.

Alessandro, what's "altın oran"?
BTW, I'm feeling a panel discussion about this at ISType 2012
coming on. :-) I'm still trying to figure out a way to make it BTW.
If I can swing a Moscow connection for my Armenia trip the cost
of a detour to Istanbul seems to be pretty modest. But the timing
still has to click just right.

Andreas, national pride can be quite important... but mostly
for endangered peoples. In the hands of dominant people it's
sadly mostly used to get the populace to behave contrary to
its own good, as happened during WWI.

> therefore it will undergo substantial
> transformation or it will vanish.

What's "substantial"? That's not what I feel happened
to the Euro. What we see in type is clearly a rendering
of the original idea. It really doesn't matter that the
original idea was intended* to be implemented strictly.
And that actually has its place too, like as decoration
on buildings. In fact it's better to start with something
formal and let people deviate; the other way is hopeless.

* Which I'm not sure was the case. There's a
difference between what politicians say versus
what they think should happen. And if they had
said "this is just a suggestion of how it should
look" then we might have seen some substantial
changes (and you don't want too much deviation).

> you can always go and furnish 20A4 with any glyph you like

Overloading that slot would only confuse. That's almost
as bad as re-using the sputnik (the generic currency slot).

> Syria as an Arabic writing country the slot 20A4 is of no interest

That's an over-simplification - you could be writing about
the Syrian currency in a Latinate language. And if I'm not
mistaken the Syrian currency notes have an English side.

> Is there any political message in this official announcement

Explicitly: unlikely. Implicitly: definitely. :-)
Although it's possible that the Armenian Dram's recent
incorporation into Unicode was a trigger, something like
this would never get off the ground unless there was a
political message. And the only message that seems to
make sense here is "we don't really need Europe"; and
in that context the new mark pretty much had to have
a non-Latin skew.

hhp

serdar's picture

what's "altın oran"?

Hrant, it means "golden ratio" in Turkish, the symbol is said to be designed using the golden ratio.

serdar's picture

A fishmonger's usage of the new sign, no slanting crossbar but nicely italicized!

Bulgarian and Greek tourists are confused and thought it's the euro sign, so "TL" is also added to avoid confusion. (Full story here.)

Actually, I like the "TL" design too.

Si_Daniels's picture

>So in fact, the point is finally left for Turkish conquest ;-)

Fonts are used to reproduce or render legacy documents, so redrawing a character could be problematic. This is one of the reasons we have Japanese JIS forms for the older designs.

And who's to say an out of favor currency may not be revived at some point in the future by a regime looking to evoke a more glorious past. Although a bunch of European currencies had a stake thrust through their hearts with the introduction of the euro, who's to say Count Drachma (for example) won't come back from the grave? :-)

John Hudson's picture

Although it's possible that the Armenian Dram's recent incorporation into Unicode was a trigger

Although the Armenian example has proximity and a particular political significance, I think in general we can thank the Indian government's rupee symbol initiative for this recent fad for inventing and encoding symbols for currencies that have got on perfectly well without them for decades. Both the method (open competition) and the justification for the new Turkish symbol is the same as that employed in India; so too are the problems with the design.

Jens Kutilek's picture

Apparently someone took the pragmatic approach to encoding (read: »I don’t care«). In the font offered here:

http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/id/25326728/

the new lira symbol is encoded as dieresis (U+00A8). But hey, the font comes with a new keyboard layout!

riccard0's picture

Paratype’s fonts come with almost any free slot in the currency Unicode block filled with the not yet officially encoded rouble sign.

Si_Daniels's picture

When told to "Putin Roubles" the expected answer is "how many" not "why?"

Té Rowan's picture

WTF?!? Nick lawls out loud???!? Age!

Nick Shinn's picture

Hey, it’s more fun than Rolfing.

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