Web Excursions 2021-09-12

Language Log » Decolonizing Chinese fonts by probing the past

  • Julius Hui, the font designer, wants to revolutionize Chinese typography by hearkening back to a time before modern (say, the last four or five hundred years) fonts for typesetting.

  • I find this article to be curiously counterintuitive

    • That would be like telling designers of modern fonts for northern European languages

      • to go back to the 4th-century pre-Gothic script of Ulfilas (or Wulfila)

      • to develop a "revolutionary" new script for English or

    • for designers of modern fonts for southern European languages

      • to go back to the uncial majuscule script of roughly the same time period

      • that was used for Greek and Latin.

  • He is so fixated on traditional calligraphic excellence

    • that he seems conceptually unable to advance to a new level

    • of reenvisioning the shapes and forms of Chinese characters to suit the new [digital] media

      • the difficulty of deciphering the strokes of characters used in [] digital media, especially those characters that have more than 12 strokes

      • the calligraphic flourishes (hooks, turns, elongated dots, etc.) that tend to fill up what white space they may have between strokes

  • The mother of one of my graduate students spends hours each day writing out Buddhist sutras with a ball point pen

    • which I would consider a purer form of writing characters than doing so with a brush,

      • where so much of one's attention is devoted to ornamentation and embellishment,

      • whereas she is content to concentrate on the abstract essence of writing itself

Revolutionary type: Meet the designer decolonizing Chinese fonts - Rest of World

  • Hui said that the point of the project is not just an exercise in aesthetics,

    • but an attempt to “decolonize” Chinese type.

  • He intends to take it back to its roots before the influence of Japanese designers,

    • and to free it from the cultural gravity of the mainland,

      • where even typefaces come under the purview of the state.

  • His research and dedication to the history of Chinese typography is, improbably, a revolutionary act.

    • “I think all typefaces should have a ‘traditional Chinese feel,’” Hui said.

  • Type and the way characters have been portrayed has always been political in China.

    • It was practiced only by scholars and aesthetic tastes were at the whim of emperors.

    • calligraphers would paint in styles the emperors liked,

      • who would not only collect works, but also produce their own.

    • By the start of the Qing dynasty, the favored style was called guan’geti.

      • sterile; the “smother[ing of] the artistic spontaneity and irregularity of Chinese calligraphy.” (via Peiran Tan at The Type)

  • The shift to digital media in the 2000s drove another evolution, to what Hui calls “fat and blocky” characters.

    • “A kind of modernizing impetus briefly took a chokehold on digital Chinese type designers,” [Hui] said.

    • “[The designers] were, in a way, enamored with the software’s numerical possibilities,

    • and wanted to maximize a typeface’s legibility and uniformity.”

    • Microsoft YaHei and its traditional Chinese equivalent, JhengHei

  • [Ku MinCho] raised 20,450,840 Taiwanese dollars ($71,660), 511% of its original goal.

  • [Why no SimpChi ver.]

    • While both China and Taiwan have their own sets of how characters are to be officially written, only China’s is compulsory —

      • digital fonts have to be certified by the China Electronic Standardization Institute.

    • “I’d rather work in markets I understand first,” Hui said.

    • “I also think Taiwan and Hong Kong will be enough for my company’s survival;

    • I don’t want to deal with those problems [on the mainland].

    • Maybe later, if I need to, I’ll deal with it.”

嘖嘖 | 空明朝體|當文字開始呼吸,繁體中文的寧靜變革


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What Does It All Mean?: A Look at Judge Gonzalez Rogers' Decision in the Epic Versus Apple Trial - MacStories

  • I find Epic’s legal tactics distasteful.

  • However, I also think Apple’s restraints on communications between developers and app users

    • are an example of overreaching

    • that unduly stifles competition in the name of protecting users.

  • Still, on balance, I’m pleased with the Court’s decision.

    • You can argue about whether Judge Gonzalez Rogers overstepped the bounds of her authority by imposing a nationwide injunction based on state law.

    • That’s the sort of remedy that I think is more appropriately the purview of federal legislators.

    • However, I’m also glad to see additional pressure brought to bear

      • that I hope will result in meaningful changes to the App Store for all developers,

      • and that doesn’t reward Epic’s questionable legal tactics.