Re: logos, symbols, and ligatures

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Tue Nov 06 2007 - 02:09:05 CST

  • Next message: Otto Stolz: "Re: German ligatures"

    On 11/6/2007 12:22 AM, John Hudson wrote:
    > Asmus wrote:
    >> Because of the way compound words work, they do require that the
    >> reader mentally break (most of) them apart when reading and every
    >> subtle bit of help from typography is welcome in that task. In
    >> addition, there are some ambiguities that can be introduced in the
    >> process, where moving the intra-word splits changes the meaning.
    >> Again, having some help in the typography makes text more readable.
    > If the compound words are so difficult to read and introduce
    > ambiguities, such that readers must seek 'every subtle bit of help
    > from typography' in order to decipher them, wouldn't it make sense to
    > write them with hyphens or other less subtle typographic aids?
    Much of this may well become moot. Due to the pressure from
    inexpertly(?) designed spell checkers (and inept reformers) the number
    of cases where Germans nowadays are writing apart words that used to be
    written together is on the rise - this is not a panacea, since it can
    distort (or render ambiguous) the intended meaning in not so subtle ways
    (details of how that works would lead us completely into OT land).

    Just as English writers don't feel compelled to simplify orthography so
    that not only night, but also knight might become "nite", but instead
    chose to retain (or at times reintroduce) cumbersome archaic spellings
    to be able to give (not so subtle) hints to the reader, so do other
    languages retain orthographic (or typographic) elements that might seem
    archaic and unmotivated to an outsider.


    PS: BTW: I don't know how you use English, but "must seek" is not a
    paraphrase of "is welcome" I would have chosen. To me, well-designed
    typography is all about giving support to the reader, while staying
    unobtrusively in the background. Hyphens, or even less subtle means than
    that would somehow not qualify in my view. ;-)
    > JH

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