RE: Acceptable alembic glyph variants

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2008 - 17:43:14 CST

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    Dominikus Scherkl wrote:
    > James Kass schrieb:
    > > In the definition for atténuant, the text reads:
    > > "... verdünnend (e? Mittel..."
    > > What is that Fraktur symbol? Is it an ampersand?
    > No, it's a round "s", somewhat enlarged to say that it's
    > a word of neutral gender (singular is with the "s", plural without)

    Some other interesting ligatures to consider are those used in Old French
    (or Old Catalan) such as:

    * The "de" ligature where the "e" was marked on the top of the "d" top arm,
    by curving it and closing it in a small curl at the top. This curl later
    evolved into a ligated apostrophe (d’) before the apostrophe was detached.

    * The old form of the exclamation point, which was initially written only at
    the beginning of the sentence (like it is still now in Spanish, however
    today Spanish writes it in to vertically mirrored forms, at both the
    beginning and end of the sentence) in a form quite similar to a capital J
    but with a descender (the dot of the exclamation was initially ligated and
    written below the baseline using some "decorative" curl on the left side,
    and the vertical stem was doubled, a thick one and a narrow one side by

    * The "pro" (or "per"? this depends on the way the word was actually
    pronounced by various speakers) ligature (which car occur also in the middle
    of a word or as a word prefix like in "profontd" that became "pfontd" before
    becoming "fond" in today's French), written like a p with a horizontal
    stroke cutting the descender, quite similar to a underscored p (however,
    typographical underscores should not cut the descenders of letters).

    There may exist in fact lots of unstudied ligatures in medieval scripts,
    that were used up to the 17th Century in France, until the French language
    started to have their orthographies fixed by the French Academy, influencing
    also other languages of France, when the Academy tried to unified the
    various spelling by dropping old letters that were no longer pronounced or
    not always written or where those letters, if present, were only written
    with various ligatures).

    As long as printing was not widely developed and used, the work performed in
    various regions used lots of conventions, depending on the preferences of
    the copyists or writers, and the influence of their regional spelling and
    accents of the same words.

    I think this will be the case for almost all languages in the world before
    the wide development of metal printing, and the massive use of typewriters
    in administrations, requiring it even for legal texts or official documents
    made by notaries or État-Civil registries (even those made initially by
    churches). The orthographies were finally fixed only when book publishing
    became much less expensive and newspapers became popular in almost all
    cities, and when public schools became free for all children with an
    official school program and an official letter forming taught in schools
    (and their use required in public exams).

    But before that, writing was known by too few people, and used mostly for
    their private correspondence, and adopted lots of different styles. It was
    not perceived as a problem, but instead as a feature acting like a signature
    from the author, used to authenticate them (for example the King Louis 14th
    of France had his own writer during most of his reign, and was the only one
    allowed to imitate the "script of the King", who just had to apply his
    personnal seal to finalize it, and using this script was strictly forbidden
    for use by everybody else).

    So, if you look closely into the history, you'll find probably as many
    ligatures as authors, because this were part of their signature! This must
    have also influence the fact that the design of metal types were also
    protected very early (even before the protection of many other proprietary
    rights like trademarks) and this protection of type design still remains in
    today's fonts.

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