Olicana, a script typeface with optical sizes

Hands for all sizes:
Script typefaces with size-specific variants

Size matters – at least in type. With digital type, we can use any font at whatever size we desire. But more often than not, we should not. Typefaces that work well at a certain size usually do not work equally well at other sizes. A typeface with pronounced contrast, sharp details and tight spacing that looks great on a billboard will fail at typical body copy sizes. Conversely, a typeface with coarser details and sturdier proportions, optimised for small sizes, is likely to look clunky when set large.
FF Tisa and Orpheus
But what if you would like to use the same typeface for headings and text? In that case, you may want to consider a typeface with ‘optical sizes’ (i.e., variants with size-specific adjustments). Many such typefaces exist (Identifont has an alphabetical list). Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura have written about some of them and provide a list of all typefaces covered in their book on their website. Browsing through these lists, I noticed that few are script typefaces (i.e., typefaces based on calligraphy or other types of handwriting). That surprised me, given that handwriting is also markedly size-specific. The release of a new typeface in that category was the reason for me to compile the following list:

Script(y) typefaces with size-specific adjustments

  • Atlantica (2017) by Pellisco & Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini (Zetafonts)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (+ Signature)
  • Brioso (2003) by Robert Slimbach (Adobe)
    5 sizes: Caption, [Text], Subhead, Display, Poster (each in 5 weights with italics)
  • Canto Brush (2011) by Richard Lipton (Lipton Letter Design)
    2 sizes: Open (for smaller sizes) + Brush (each in 4 weights with italics)
  • Erotica (2013) by Maximiliano Sproviero (Lián Types)
    2 sizes: Small + Big (+ Inline + Capitals)
  • Excelsor Script (2005) by František Štorm (Storm Type Foundry)
    2 sizes: 10 + 120
  • Flirt Script (2014) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: Regular + Display
  • Gretel Script (2018) by Typejockeys
    2 sizes: Piccolo + Grande (+ Caps)
  • Kari (2005) + Kari Display (2009) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: [Regular] (in 2 widths, each with italics) + Display (with italics)
  • Line (2013) by Stefania Malmsten & Göran Söderström (Letters from Sweden)
    5 sizes: Twenty, Sixteen, Ten, Six + Four
  • Liza (2009) by Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs & Sami Kortemäki (Underware)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (+ Caps + Ornaments)
  • Lust Script (2012) by Neil Summerour (Positype)
    2 sizes: Regular + Display
  • Mommie (2008) by Hubert Jocham (Hubert Jocham Type)
    3 sizes: Small + Medium + Regular
  • Mr Moustache (2011) by Georg Herold-Wildfellner (FaceType)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (each with unicase version; + Ornaments etc.)
  • Olicana (2007) by Nick Cooke (G-Type)
    2 sizes: Smooth/Rough + Fine
  • Rumba (2005) by Laura Meseguer (Type-Ø-Tones)
    3 sizes: Small + Large + Extra
  • Sanvito (1993) by Robert Slimbach (Adobe)
    4 sizes: Caption, [Text], Subhead, Display (each in 4 weights)
  • Scandal (2007) by Aggeliki Skandalelli (Parachute)
    2 sizes: [Regular] + Display (each in 3 weights)
  • Supernova (2013) by Martina Flor (Typotheque)
    2 sizes: Text (in 5 weights) + Poster
  • Tilda (2011) by Jessica Hische (Font Bureau)
    2 sizes: Petite + Grande
  • Uberhand (2017) by Jens Kutilek (FontFont)
    2 sizes: [Headline] (11 weights) + Text (2 weights)
  • Wishes Script (2013) by Sabrina Mariela Lopez (Typesenses)
    2 sizes: Text + Display (each in 3 weights; + Caps + Ornaments)

This list is probably incomplete, so please let me know in the comments or on Twitter what is missing. Thanks to Reed Reibstein, Studio Het Mes, Akira Yoshino, Jens Kutilek and Typotheque for suggesting additions to this list.

Welcome to @isoletters

On 1 January 2018, I will start sharing pictures of letters on a new Twitter account: @isoletters. I have been taking letter pics for years and occasionally shared them, for example on my @‌isoglosse Twitter account (which I will continue to use for anything except letter pics) or on Flickr. Browsing through my collection, I decided that I would like to share pictures from it more regularly. A collection is not worth much when nobody looks at the items and maybe gets inspired by them. For that reason, I will try to post one picture on each day of 2018. You are welcome to follow. I also hope that you will comment, correct me if I am wrong and share your own pictures. What kind of pictures can you expect?
All pictures I will share on @isoletters are of some typographic interest (or at least I think so). Given my own background, I may also slip in some pictures that are interesting from a linguistic perspective. When trying to classify the pictures I collected, one may end up with roughly the following categories:

  • Excellence and extravagance

    When letterers or typographers do great work, this deserves sharing and praising. We won’t come to a universal agreement on what exactly is excellent. But I hope that you will agree that quite a few of the letters I will show are pleasant to look at. Many of the makers of these letters are anonymous – or they may even be dead. That shouldn’t keep us from appreciating their work, but it is especially with regard to this category that I would like to encourage all readers to let me know if you know who created any lettering, type or composition featured on my account. I wouldn’t mind getting in touch with the creators of some of the work I will show or learning more about them. Luckily, enjoying the letters doesn’t require knowing everything about their making. That’s what this category is for.

  • Local colour

    Letters shape our world – and just like many other things, they look different in each place. Sure, Arial and Times New Roman are almost everywhere (the way McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are). But most places have retained a certain couleur locale that is enjoyable to discover and observe. That is why a German Bäckerei usually does not look the same as a French boulangerie. And a Dutch bakkerij will look different still (if you can find one). This category is meant to celebrate these differences. A large share of the pictures I have collected fall within this category. There may be a pinch of excellence in some of the examples; some others may seem a bit bland at first sight. What the examples in this category have in common is that I have perceived them as typical elements of the local visual culture. This category also includes pictures of local variants of letters or diacritics. This is a phenomenon that has received some more attention lately and I am happy to make my contribution.

  • Abomination and abhorrence

    In this category, I collect lettering and type that had my eyebrows raised. Again, your mileage may vary (and if it does, feel free to let me know). In any case, this is supposed to be the category with the fewest items. I don’t see much of a point in highlighting subpar work. There is so much of it. You just have to take a stroll through any random town to get a year’s fill. But even bad stuff can be worth looking at – for instance, when it is funny (the fact that Comic Sans was used won’t suffice) or instructive (consider this example I posted on my @isoglosse account). I won’t specifically label these cautionary examples, but you should know that not everything I feature is worth imitating.

If you would like to know more about the pictures that will be posted, have a look at the account itself. On the first day of the year, I will post one picture per hour under the hashtag #Lttr18 to give you an idea of the road that lies ahead. But to be honest, I don’t know yet which picture will be posted on 31 December 2018, so don’t hold it against me if I don’t exactly follow the path I have set out.

Finally, some technical remarks: People have inquired why I have decided on Twitter for sharing the pictures. Twitter seemed like a good compromise in terms of image quality and reach. It is used widely in the type community and can even be accessed by people who don’t have an account themselves. It is true that file size limits apply and that pictures are compressed upon upload. The result is acceptable for the intended purposes, though. I hope to upload all pictures to Flickr as well (which is better in terms of quality and tagging, but used by fewer people), but that may take a while. The pictures on @isoletters are licensed under CC BY-NC-ND. If you need higher-resolution files or would like to use the pictures for anything that goes beyond the license, please get in touch with me.

Old type in new fonts? First impressions of Fontstore

A few days ago, Font­store launched – a new player in the market for subscription-based font services. To be accurate, Font­store is both a foundry and a font service provider: You can buy fonts there like at any other foundry, but you can also become a subscriber. For $ 15 per month (or $ 150 per year), you get access to their entire library of desktop fonts. Having used Typekit for a few years and having reviewed the Monotype Library Subscription (MLS) last year, I was curious to see what Font­store has to offer. The very first impression was not too favourable: Their website is slow and cluttered up with animations and effects, making it difficult to get an overview of their collection (others loved their site or also hated it). Font­store does not excel at transparency either: The name of its founder, Satya Rajpurohit, is nowhere to be found on the website (though he has promised to remedy this). In order to access the Font­store Library (the contents of which will be discussed below) through the subscription service, I subscribed and payed by credit card; both went without problems. Installing the app syncing the fonts on Windows was not exactly a seamless experience, though: I got a number of warnings that are typically not shown upon installing software, but just going ahead did not crash the system. Once installed, you go to the website, select the fonts you want to use, and they are available just seconds later.

Slim pickings for type designers

As I noted in my review of the MLS, low-priced font subscription services do not only raise technical questions, but ethical ones as well. Creating fonts is a time-consuming task requiring specialised skills that are gained through extensive training and practice. Few type designers create fonts just for the fun of it. Most do so to make (part of) a living – but you need a lot of subscribers before you are able to provide decent payment to all type designers. As a customer, you have to decide: Is subscribing to such a service tantamount to supporting exploitative working conditions and fuelling the downward price spiral in the font market? In the case of Font­store, the decision may be a little easier: All typefaces were commissioned for that service with (I presume) designers knowing what they signed for. In a post on TypeDrawers, Satya Rajpurohit, the founder of Font­store, explained that Font­store offers different payment models to type designers, neither of them based on royalties. In any case, the business risk mainly rests with Font­store, rather than with individual designers. That seems friendlier than royalty-based models, but $ 15 per month is still not much to go round, so time will tell if the system is sustainable. Also, even the best offer in a given situation can be a bad one: Font­store carries fonts from quite a few young type designers, some of them releasing their first retail fonts. Many senior designers may have been reluctant to accept Font­store’s payment models and have their fonts offered at a bargain price.

The library from a bird’s-eye view

Let’s have a broad look at the collection, offering 75 typefaces that 31 type designers have contributed to. Some of the most prolific contributors have links with France: Jérémie Hornus and Alisa Nowak have worked on 10 typefaces each (and collaborated on most of them). Both were part of FontYou and work together at Black[Foundry], which was co-founded by Hornus (with Grégori Vincens). Like several other contributors, Hornus and Nowak have designed typefaces released by the Indian Type Foundry (ITF), headed by Font­store founder Satya Rajpurohit. Gaëtan Baehr, Théo Guillard and Jean-Baptiste Morizot (5 typefaces each in the Font­store collection) have worked for ITF and work for Black[Foundry]. Frode Helland (co-founder of Norwegian Monokrom) has also contributed 5 typefaces, but, to my knowledge, has not released at any of the aforementioned foundries. Aarya Purohit (working at ITF), Diana Ovezea (who has released a typeface family at ITF) and Deni Anggara have contributed to 4 typefaces each. Again, Font­store could do better in terms of transparency: 7 typefaces are credited to ITF with no individual designers mentioned. Based on their own (less than ideal) classification, we can say that Font­store offers 34 sans-serif typefaces, 21 serif typefaces (5 of which are classified as slab serifs) and 20 display typefaces (5 of which are classified as script typefaces). Based on my own assessment, I would say that typefaces that can be used for body text in the broadest sense of the term make up about 40 % of the library. Of these typefaces, about two thirds are sans-serif. An exhaustive overview of the initial collection can be downloaded here. Some of my personal favourites are shown below.

Fontstore: Some favourite typefaces

The library in more detail

On the one hand, Font­store’s library is tiny (200 fonts, belonging to 75 typefaces) – compared to Monotype’s MLS (more than 9,000 fonts, belonging to ± 2,200 typefaces) or Adobe’s Typekit (± 900 typefaces for desktop sync). On the other hand, I know of no other foundry that has released 75 digital typefaces on the same day. If it is not a unique accomplishment, it certainly is exceptional. Comparing the three libraries, one more important difference is the size of the ‘back catalogue’ (i.e., typefaces that were created long before the subscription service launched): To be honest, the MLS is nothing but one large back catalogue for the better part. Typekit has a higher share of new releases, but also includes some classics from Adobe’s library. On Font­store, everything is new. Being able to draw on a sizeable back catalogue, as Monotype and Adobe can, has advantages: It provides a strong foundation of usable basics, so one can – or, well, could – focus on adding innovative type to the collection.

Looking at Font­store’s collection, I get the impression that they have struggled with the absence of such a back catalogue: They know that most customers will subscribe to no more than one font service. In whatever service they use, customers will expect to find more or less everything they need. For Font­store, this means that they, too, have to offer typefaces in certain popular categories – say, a type system with sans, serif and monospaced variants, a spurless sans, a neurial neutral grotesque, a Didone, some all-caps stuff or some script typefaces. In complying with these wishes, Font­store’s designers are forced to reinvent the wheel, even if the only fault in existing wheels is that they are not part of the Font­store library. In most cases, this yields technically solid typefaces that are nothing to write home about. But in some cases, the result seems too close for comfort to earlier designs: Demo, for instance, is so heavily reminiscent of Sansa that it suggests a serious lack of fresh ideas, to say the least.¹ Similarly, the (bold) italics of Gambetta elicit a too strong sense of Minion déjà vu. In any case, a bunch of type designers were asked to work on things that have already been worked on elsewhere for, as far as I can see, the sole purpose of creating a ‘complete’ library that checks all the boxes. That may be inevitable from a business perspective, but it feels like a waste of resources to me.

On the upside, Font­store is an investment in another bunch of type designers working on nice things. As my selection of favourites above may suggest, I am most interested in text typefaces or toned-down display typefaces. There can never be enough of either, but the selection at Font­store is nothing to sneeze at. It is hard to say if the nine typefaces shown above would not have been released if Font­store had not come into existence. I think most would have found their place in the font market, but we may have had to wait a little longer to get to use them. These – and some other original or even innovative typefaces that I have not singled out for various reasons – are what sets Font­store apart from its competitors. This is what I would like to see more of. When you don’t have DIN or Sabon in your library, don’t follow in their footsteps, but try to design a DIN or Sabon of the 21st century. Satya Rajpurohit should be praised for encouraging and paying more than thirty type designers to give it a shot, and it is impressive that he was able to do so without a large corporation like Monotype or Adobe behind him.

Will I keep my Font­store subscription after the first month? I am not sure yet – but the next addition to the library may give me a nudge in the right direction. Release date: tomorrow. And even if I cancel now, I will be back in 2025. Font­store is “expecting to add about 3,000 new font families” by then. If they are as ambitious when it comes to quality as they are in terms of quantity, that will be a nice library.


1   In a previous version of this paragraph, I used the term ‘outright plagiarism’, stating that this does not seem to be the reason for the similarities between the typefaces I mentioned. It has been pointed out to me that this paragraph can be misread in a way that suggests that I do consider these typefaces to be cases of plagiarism. I do not – and I have therefore reworded this paragraph, avoiding the term ‘plagiarism’ and only mentioning what I see as the source of the similarities: a lack of creative ideas. 

On cognates and friends, true and false

Learning a language is hard, so every little bit helps: If English is your mother tongue and you start learning German, you will be delighted to hear that the German word for hand is Hand. You may be less delighted to hear that the English word gift does not translate to its German orthographic counterpart Gift (which means ‘poison’), but to Geschenk. Then again, if you like linguistics, you will be delighted to hear that not just the former, but also the latter pair of words is etymologically related (both gift in English and Gift in German refer to something that is given to someone, the verb give also being related to the nouns). So, we have three aspects of relatedness in words: the origin (where words come from); the form (how they are written); the meaning (how we define them). For some clusters of relatedness, there are established terms: The term I have always used for words that share the same spelling, but not the same meaning is ‘false friends’ (e.g., gift/Gift). Today I learned through a blog post by Jonathon Owen that some English speakers (erroneously) refer to such false friends as ‘false cognates’ – a term that would properly be applied to words that share the same meaning and the same form across languages, but that are in fact etymologically unrelated. Inspired by said blog post, I made an overview of different types of relations between word pairs across languages, based on origin, form, meaning or some combination thereof. You can download a PDF version of the chart by clicking on the image below:

An overview of words that share the same origin, form, meaning or some combination thereof

Die englische ›type foundry‹ und ihre deutschen Äquivalente


How do you translate type foundry into German? Gießerei (literally castery), the traditional term from the era of metal typesetting, is not used for digital foundries and seems unlikely to be revived. This text is supposed to ignite a debate about possible alternative terms. These include Schriftanbieter (literally type offerer), Schriftenhaus (type house), Schriftherausgeber (type editor), Schrifthersteller (type producer), Schriftlabel (type label), Schriftverlag (type publisher) and the English loan word Foundry.


Wie übersetzt man type foundry ins Deutsche? Bei einer Diskussion auf Twitter, die sich um die Suche nach einem Begriff für die deutsche Wikipedia drehte, wurde klar, dass es hierzu keinen Konsens gibt. Grund genug, sich das englische Original und einige mögliche Übersetzungen genauer anzusehen.

Den englischen Begriff definiert Wiktionary als »a company that designs and/or distributes typefaces« (»ein Unternehmen, das Schriftarten gestaltet und/oder verbreitet«). Erster Bestandteil ist type – ein Wort mit griechischen Wurzeln (altgr. τύπος ›Schlag, Stoß; Abdruck; Gepräge, Relief; Abbild, Vorbild, Vorlage; Form, Gestalt‹ zu τύπτειν ›schlagen, stoßen‹), das, übers Lateinische und Französische, Ende des 15. Jahrhunderts ins Englische kam. Ausgehend von älteren Bedeutungen wie ›(Vor-)Bild, Vorlage; charakteristische Form‹ wird es seit dem frühen 18. Jahrhundert für Drucklettern verwendet. In dieser Bedeutung wird es im Deutschen mühelos mit ›Schrift‹ wiedergegeben, so auch in einigen Wörtern, die im Weiteren besprochen werden. Der zweite Teil der Begriffs ist es, der bei der Übertragung ins Deutsche Schwierigkeiten bereitet. Drucklettern entstanden bzw. entstehen in einer foundry. Auch dieses Wort, das im Englischen seit dem 16. Jahrhundert belegt ist, stammt aus dem Französischen: Das Verb fondre, das wiederum auf das lateinische fundere zurückgeht, bedeutet unter anderem ›schmelzen‹. Eine fonderie ist eine Werkstatt, in der Metall geschmolzen und in neue Formen gebracht wird, zum Beispiel Buchstabenformen (deren Kombination zum Zeichensatz einer Schriftart als font bezeichnet wird). Im Deutschen bezeichnet man solche Werkstätten seit dem frühen 17. Jahrhundert als Gießerei bzw., wenn sie sich mit der Herstellung von Buchstaben beschäftigen, als Schriftgießerei.

Der deutsche Begriff Gießerei ist, anders als sein englisches Gegenstück, in der Zeit verblieben, in der Buchstaben aus Metall waren. Für Unternehmen, die sich mit digitaler Schrift beschäftigen, hat er sich nicht eingebürgert. Aber was soll man dann verwenden? Dass sich die Frage überhaupt stellt, dürfte auch daran liegen, dass ein Großteil des Geschäfts in dieser Branche auf Englisch abgewickelt wird. Auch auf Deutsch wird über Schrift geschrieben, aber häufiger noch auf Englisch. Die Zahl der type foundries, die eine deutschsprachige Website unterhalten, ist niedrig. In der Diskussion und bei der Recherche tauchten dann doch sechs Wörter auf, die die nähere Betrachtung lohnen: Schriftanbieter; Schrifthaus; Schriftherausgeber; Schrifthersteller; Schriftlabel; Schriftverlag (bei allen kann der erste Teil auch ›Schriften-‹ lauten, aber die Verteilung der Formen ist nicht bei allen Begriffen dieselbe).


Auf ein Wort (24): Céline Dion

Céline Dion frz. (QC) [seˌlɪn ˈd͡zjɒ̃]; frz. (FR) [seˌlin ˈdjɔ̃]; engl. (AE) [səˌlɪn diˈɑn]


Angesichts der Bekanntheit von Céline Dion war ich überrascht, wenig Diskussionen über die Aussprache ihres Namens zu finden. Als ›ursprüngliche‹ Lautung kann man wohl die betrachten, die der quebecischen Aussprache des Französischen folgt. Mit dieser Varietät ist die Sängerin aufgewachsen. Im Vergleich zur Aussprache in Frankreich, die hier als Zweites angegeben ist, fallen einige Unterschiede auf.

Zum einen ist der Vokal in der zweiten Silbe des Vornamens in der kanadischen Aussprache zentralisiert. Zu den geschlossenen Vokalen [i], [y] und [u] in Frankreich kommen in Québec [ɪ], [ʏ] und [ʊ] hinzu, die erstere in vielen geschlossenen Silben ersetzen und sowohl lang als auch, wie hier, kurz sein können. In ihrer englischen Aussprache des eigenen Namens übernimmt Céline Dion diesen zentralisierten Vokal. Es sei darauf hingewiesen, dass die Lautung mit [iː] – also [səˈliːn] oder auch [seˈliːn] mit Vollvokal in der ersten Silbe – im Englischen von anderen Sprechern am häufigsten zu hören ist.

Ein weiterer Unterschied zwischen den zwei französischen Varietäten findet sich im Nachnamen: Im quebecischen Französisch werden [t] und [d] vor Vordervokalen affriziert, also [t͜s] bzw. [d͜z] gesprochen. Außerdem ist der Nasalvokal am Ende im Vergleich mit der Aussprache in Frankreich offener. In Québec werden die Laute, die in Frankreich nasale Monophthonge sind, zudem von einigen Sprechern diphthongiert – im Fall von [ɔ̃] zu [ɒ̃ʊ̯̃]. Die Aussprache des Nachnamens in einer Silbe wird im Englischen zu zwei Silben aufgebrochen, wobei in der zweiten, betonten Silbe meist ein Vokal aus dem ›lexical set‹ von lot verwendet wird, also [ɒ] im britischen und [ɑ(ː)] im amerikanischen Englisch.


Für deutsche Sprecher ist der Name keine allzu große Herausforderung. Als Eindeutschung zu empfehlen wäre [seˌliːn ˈdi̯õː] (ungefähr: ßee-LIHN DIÕ). Der Vorname reimt auf ›Berlin‹. Der Nachname kann auch zweisilbig – also [diˈjɔ̃] – ausgesprochen werden. Wer kann, sollte der im Deutschen verbreiteten Tendenz widerstehen, den Nasalvokal denasaliert und gefolgt von [ŋ] auszusprechen.


Vacuüm in het woordenboek

Onderzoek in de media: discussie in een vacuüm

Gister stond het in de krant: ‘Lager loon voor platprater’. Het artikel in het AD ging over onderzoek dat Jan van Ours, hoogleraar arbeidseconomie aan de Universiteit van Tilburg, samen met Yuxin Yao heeft uitgevoerd. Op 16 september is het onderzoek gepresenteerd op het EALE-congres in Gent. Naar aanleiding van het krantenartikel was er enige discussie over het onderzoek in de (sociale) media.* Die discussie was in de eerste plaats gekenmerkt door een opmerkelijk gebrek, namelijk een gebrek aan details. Het artikel in het AD maakte geen gewag van zo’n beetje alles wat je over een dergelijke analyse wilt weten. En in eerste instantie bleek er ook geen onderzoeksrapport, manuscript of artikel beschikbaar met de nodige informatie. Pas later op de dag vond ik een rapport van een paar maanden geleden, maar we weten niet of dat de huidige stand van de analyses weergeeft. Desondanks schroomde menigeen niet om zijn zegje te doen over het onderzoek, gebaseerd op een krantenartikel.

Dat kan volgens mij beter. Hier lees je wat ik journalisten en wetenschappers zou willen aanbevelen in het belang van een serieuze discussie over de resultaten van wetenschappelijk onderzoek:

Vacuüm in het woordenboek

Identical zero and oh glyphs

Zero vs. oh: Strategies of glyph differentiation

When characters look similar to one another, misreadings or even misunderstandings may result. In such cases, type designers often try to avoid glyphs looking completely identical. One example of a similarity that can get too close for comfort is between the digit ‘0’ (henceforth: zero) and the letter ‘O’ (oh). Differentiation strategies between lining zero and upper-case oh have been shown to be fairly uniform across typefaces: Zero is almost always narrower and often less tall than Oh. These and other strategies have been discussed in a 2013 article by Charles Bigelow. He focuses on lining figures in typewriter typefaces and only briefly mentions contemporary approaches to non-lining zero and lower-case oh – a pair that is also prone to confusion and seems to be treated with less uniformity in recent typefaces. Inspired by a tweet by Shiva Nallaperumal, I have compiled typical and not so typical ways of distinguishing non-lining zero from lower-case oh. My observations are mainly based on old-style roman text typefaces in the Typekit library; this sample is not representative of anything but the Typekit library itself, which, however, contains a bunch of well-known, widely used typefaces.


Charis SIL, used in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary

Fonts for phonetic transcriptions: An overview

In 2014, I started compiling a list of fonts for typesetting phonetic transcriptions using symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). It is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of such fonts, providing short, yet detailed reviews of the typefaces and the quality of their symbols – but it has two disadvantages: First, the reviews are written in German, which most people do not read. Second, the list – featuring more than 40 typefaces – has grown quite long and maybe even a bit confusing. If you are looking for a decent sans-serif typeface that includes phonetic symbols in its bold style, the long list will not be much help. That is why created a table of all fonts for phonetic transcriptions I am aware of (thanks to Friedrich Althausen, the designer of the Vollkorn typeface, for the suggestion!).
Charis SIL, used in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary by John C. Wells
For each font family, I have indicated whether the roman and italic styles in the regular and bold weights contain phonetic symbols (R: Regular Roman; I: Regular Italic; B: Bold Roman; BI: Bold Italic).¹ Whenever a typeface family includes more than these four styles, this is noted in the ‘More styles’ column (but you’ll have to look up the details for yourself). This is also true when a typeface has more than one bold weight (e.g., Semibold and Bold) or more than one italic style (e.g., ‘true’ italics and oblique). If you want to read the reviews of the typefaces, click on their names (warning: 🇩🇪 content ahead).

In each category,  means that a (more or less) complete set of phonetic symbols is available. Even if a font is marked that way, some symbols may be missing. (✓) means that a style or weight is present in the typeface, but that it does not contain phonetic symbols.  means that a style or weight is missing entirely from the typeface in question.² The last column contains a rating: This is not about whether a typeface is nice in general, but only refers to the design and functioning of the phonetic symbols. Still, it is certainly somewhat subjective, so feel free to comment if your evaluation differs substantially from mine. Also, please let me know if you know of any other typefaces with phonetic symbols.


Valse klemtoonvrienden:
Wortbetonung im Deutschen und Niederländischen

Als ›falsche Freunde‹ bezeichnet man Paare von Begriffen, die in zwei Sprachen eine ähnliche Form, aber eine unterschiedliche Bedeutung haben. Am häufigsten kommen solche Paare in Sprachen mit gemeinsamem Ursprung vor. Listen deutsch-englischer falscher Freunde füllen Bücher, während die Kombination Kurdisch/Guaraní an solchen Stolperfallen eher arm sein dürfte. Meist geht es nämlich um Kognaten, also Wörter identischer Herkunft, die sich über die Jahrhunderte semantisch weiter als lautlich voneinander entfernt haben. Falsche Freunde sind diese Begriffe deshalb, weil sie beim Zweitspracherwerb für Schwierigkeiten sorgen: Wer eine Sprache lernt, die der eigenen Erstsprache bzw. einer bereits erlernten Zweitsprache ähnlich ist, nutzt das Vorwissen und versucht anfangs, sich die neue Sprache durch den Transfer von Elementen der bekannten Sprache zu erschließen. Oft trennt die Erst- und die Zweitsprache ja bloß eine unbedeutende Lautverschiebung bei tatsächlich identischer Bedeutung.

Transfer findet aber auch statt, wenn es nicht um Semantik geht. Im morphologischen Bereich ist zum Beispiel bekannt, dass deutsche Muttersprachler das grammatikalische Geschlecht (Genus) niederländischer Wörter mit hoher Trefferquote nennen können – schlicht auf der Basis ihrer Kenntnis des Deutschen. Falsche Freunde in diesem Bereich wären Wörter wie ›Orgel‹ (gleichbedeutend in beiden Sprachen), das im Deutschen ein Femininum ist, im Niederländisch dagegen ein Neutrum. Ein Bereich, in dem seltener über Transfer gesprochen wird, ist die Wortbetonung. Allerdings dürfte auch hier der Spracherwerb zumindest anfangs auf Transfer basieren. Man geht – nicht ganz zu Unrecht – davon aus, dass die Betonung ähnlicher Wörter in ähnlichen Sprachen auf derselben Silbe liegt.

Im Folgenden stelle ich eine Liste von mehr als 60 Wortpaaren vor, die im Deutschen und Niederländischen (fast) gleich geschrieben, aber (meist) unterschiedlich betont werden. Eine Frage, die ich hier nicht beantworten werde, ist die nach dem Warum – allerdings nicht, weil sie uninteressant wäre. Der Grund ist, dass die Liste mehrheitlich relativ rezente Fremd- und Lehnwörter enthält. Bei solchen Wörtern wird die Wortbetonung – anders als bei nativen Wörtern oder älteren Lehnwörtern – nicht ausschließlich von fonologischen Prinzipien bestimmt. Oft spielen auch die Herkunfts- oder Vermittlersprache bzw. sprachinterne Ähnlichkeiten eine Rolle. Diese Faktoren für die untenstehenden Wörter zu entwirren, geht über das hinaus, was ich hier leisten kann. Sollte sich jemand die Mühe dieser Arbeit machen, bitte ich um Nachricht. Selbiges gilt bei Fehlern und Unvollständigkeiten, insbesondere in Bezug auf Lautungen, die außerhalb von Deutschland oder den Niederlanden gebräuchlich sind.