Writing systems

Greek script
Greek script
Greek script

The site of Geri Leonidas Greek type design is a hub for resources on Greek typeface design. There are texts to read, typefaces to study as examples, and links to resources for designers.

Beginners’ texts to read

Fundamental texts for typeface designers preparing for Greek.

Intermediate texts to read

Second-stage reading, for designers who want to go deeper.

Typefaces with Greek complements worth studying

Good contemporary examples, in a range of styles.

Polytonic typefaces of note

(This post in in Greek, but the typefaces are shown and identified clearly.)

Examples of ano teleia (and other punctuation) in texts

(Compiled to support a Unicode discussion.) Contains a historical overview of other Greek punctuation as well.

Writing and letter grouping

Material for the very first stage of designing Greek typefaces.

Texture and fitting

Material for making decisions for designing letter proportions, counters, and spacing and kerning Greek.

Monotonic case conversion

The absolute minimum needed to support case conversion in OpenType Greek fonts.

Link

Vietnamese Typography
Vietnamese Typography
Vietnamese Typography

This book will help type designers understand Vietnamese’s unique typographic features so they can design their typefaces to support the Vietnamese language. It will also guide web and graphic designers in using correct Vietnamese typography in a project.
Unlike most Asian character-based writing systems, modern Vietnamese is written in the Latin alphabet. Its writing system uses diacritics to specify phonetic tones of their spoken counterpart. These special typographic features play a crucial role in legibility and readability.
For good legibility, the design of the diacritics is as important as the letters. If the marks are too small, readers will have a difficult time distinguishing words. If the marks are too large, the flow of text can be interfered. In the worst case, Vietnamese is typeset without diacritical marks. When the marks are missing, readers have to slow down or stop to guess at words, which could distort, or obscure entirely, the original meaning of the text.
For optimal readability, support for proper Vietnamese fonts is vital. When a typeface does not include Vietnamese diacritics and characters, web browsers and digital tools—including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop—will substitute default fonts to display missing characters. Imagine a single word containing both Goudy and Georgia or Futura and Arial—the result is aesthetically disjointed and disrupts the flow of reading.
Although Vietnamese is based on Latin characters, support for Vietnamese fonts is limited. Even with the emergence of web font services like Adobe Typekit and Google Fonts, which offer thousands of typefaces, only a handful of these fonts have subsets for Vietnamese. Today many online publications written in Vietnamese use default system fonts such as Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman, or fonts without proper subsets for Vietnamese characters.
The goal of this book is to expand and enrich the quality of Vietnamese typography. It is aimed at providing insights into the subtle details and nuances of the Vietnamese writing system that can be used for reference and transferred into practice.

Link

Icelandic script
Icelandic script
Icelandic script
300.000 speakers
24 language specific characters
ISO 639 code: isl

The Icelandic alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet including some letters duplicated with acute accents; in addition, it includes the letter eth Ðð, transliterated as d, and the runic letter thorn Þþ, transliterated as th; Ææ and Öö are considered letters in their own right and not a ligature or diacritical version of their respective letters. Icelanders call the ten extra letters (not in the English alphabet), especially thorn and eth, séríslenskur (“specifically Icelandic” or “uniquely Icelandic”), although they are not. Eth is also used in Faroese, and while thorn is no longer used in any other living language, it was used in many historical languages, including Old English. Icelandic words never start with ð, which means the capital version Ð is mainly just used when words are spelled using all capitals. Sometimes the glyphs are simplified when handwritten, for example æ (considered a separate letter, originally a ligature) may be written as ae, which can make it easier to write cursively.
The final letter, Z, is no longer used in Icelandic. The only place you might find this letter is in historic names of structures, organisations, and the like, such as Verzló (a school in Reykjavík), or in the Icelandic newspaper, Morgunblaðið.

Notes

Ð and Þ are pronounced similarly. Also, Icelandic words never begin with Ð, and no words end with Þ. I and Y share the same pronunciation, as do Í and Ý also. HV is pronounced as KV. Double LL is pronounced something like tl, with a flattened tongue and a click.
In Icelandic, the R is trilled, though not as much as Spanish or Italian. It is never pronounced like a French r or a Scottish loch. U is said like the English u except with rounded lips. There are no guttural sounds in Icelandic. There are no silent letters in Icelandic. There are a few exceptions in spoken language where a letter might produce a different sound than usual. Otherwise, Icelandic is a very phonetic language. When there are double letters in a sentence, there is a slight glottal stop with a breath of air. It’s a slight pause, such as the “k” sound in the phrase “sick cat”, or the “p” sound in “top pot”. If a K is followed by a t, then the sound changes and becomes a soft k, virtually the same as a spanish j/g, gente (e.g. lukt – lantern). Likewise, a P followed by a t changes into an f sound (e.g. skipta – to shift). F in the middle of a word is often pronounced as a v (e.g. Að skafa – to shave). F followed by an l will change to a b-sound (afl is pronounced as abl). If you are not able to type in Icelandic letters, you can substitute Ð with DH, Þ with TH, Æ with AE, and Á, É, Í, Ó, Ö, Ú, Ý with AA, EE, II, OO, OE, UU, YY.

24 language specific characters
ð
þ
é
á
í
ú
Ð
æ
ó
ö
Þ
É
Á
Í
Ú
ý
Æ
Ó
Ö
Ý
Ǽ
ǽ
Ǿ
ǿ
Further Readings

Thorn and eth: how to get them right
The Making of Thorn, thorn, Eth, eth

Link

German alphabet
German alphabet
German alphabet
120.000.000 speakers
12 language specific characters
ISO 639 code: deu

The modern German alphabet consists of the twenty-six letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet. German uses three letter-diacritic combinations (Ä/ä, Ö/ö, Ü/ü) using the umlaut and one ligature (ẞ, ß (called Eszett (sz) or scharfes S, sharp s)) which are officially considered distinct letters of the alphabet.
The Capital ẞ was declared an official letter of the German alphabet on 29 June 2017.
In the past, long s (ſ) was used as well, as in English and many other European languages.

Sharp s

The eszett or scharfes S (ẞ, ß) represents the unvoiced s sound. The German spelling reform of 1996 somewhat reduced usage of this letter in Germany and Austria. It is not used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
As the ß derives from a ligature of lower-case letters, it is exclusively used in the middle or the end of a word. The proper transcription when it cannot be used, is ss (sz and SZ in earlier times). This transcription can give rise to ambiguities, albeit rarely; one such case is in Maßen (in moderation) vs. in Massen (en masse). For all caps usage, an uppercase ß was added to the German alphabet on 29 June 2017; however, the former version SS is still allowed as an alternative. In 2008, it was included in Unicode 5.1 as U+1E9E, and since 2010 its use is mandatory in official documentation when writing geographical names in all-caps.
Although nowadays substituted correctly only by ss, the letter actually originates from two distinct ligatures (depending on word and spelling rules): long s with round s (“ſs”) and long s with (round) z (“ſz”/”ſʒ”). Some people therefore prefer to substitute “ß” by “sz”, as it can avoid possible ambiguities (as in the above “Maßen” vs “Massen” example).
Incorrect use of the ß letter is a common type of spelling error even among native German writers. The spelling reform of 1996 changed the rules concerning ß and ss (no forced replacement of ss to ß at word’s end).

Long s

Wachstube and Wachſtube are distinguished in blackletter typesetting, though no longer in contemporary font styles.
In the Fraktur typeface and similar scripts, a long s (ſ) was used except in syllable endings (cf. Greek sigma) and sometimes it was historically used in antiqua fonts as well; but it went out of general use in the early 1940s along with the Fraktur typeface. An example where this convention would avoid ambiguity is Wachstube, which was written either Wachſtube = Wach-Stube (IPA: [ˈvax.ʃtuːbə], guardhouse) or Wachstube = Wachs-Tube (IPA: [ˈvaks.tuːbə], tube of wax).

12 language specific characters
ü
ä
ö
ß
Ü
Ä
Ö
é
É
à
À
Further Readings

The Multifaceted Design of the Lowercase Sharp S (ß)

Link

French
200.000.000 speakers
32 language specific characters
ISO 639-1: FR
ISO 639-2: FRE (B), FRA (T)

French is written with the 26 letters of the basic Latin script, with four diacritics appearing on vowels (circumflex accent, acute accent, grave accent, diaeresis) and the cedilla appearing in “ç”.
There are two ligatures, “œ” and “æ”, but they are now often not used because of the layout of the most commom keyboards used in French-speaking countries. Yet, they cannot be changed for “oe” and “ae” in formal and literary texts.

é
à
è
É
ê
ç
À
È
ù
ô
û
Ê
Ç
î
â
œ
Ù
Ô
Û
Î
ï
Â
ë
Œ
Ï
ü
Ë
Ü
æ
Æ
ÿ
Ÿ

Link

Breton
210,000 speakers
34 language specific characters
ISO 639-1: BR
ISO 639-2: BRE

Breton is written in the Latin script. Peurunvan, the most commonly used orthography, consists of the following letters:
a, b, ch, c’h, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, w, y, z
The circumflex, grave accent, trema and tilde appear on some letters. These diacritics are used in the following way:
â, ê, î, ô, û, ù, ü, ñ

À
à
Â
â
Æ
æ
Ç
ç
É
é
È
è
Ë
ë
Ê
ê
Ï
ï
Î
î
Ñ
ñ
Ô
ô
Œ
œ
Ù
ù
Ü
ü
Û
û
Ÿ
ÿ

Link

Data on languages
Data on languages
Data on languages

Link

The Alphabets of Europe
The Alphabets of Europe
The Alphabets of Europe

Link

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