Jump to content
The latest typography links delivered straight to your inbox.

Mixing blackletter and Roman type

Recommended Posts

​In Germany this was continued until the 20th century. If word or name was considered “foreign”, it was typeset in a “foreign” font style, i.e. Roman letters. 

​It was not that simple by the way: According to the latest custom I am aware of (according to the Duden dictionary), only words from Romance languages whose inflection or pronunciation wasn’t German and that weren’t proper names were written in roman type. Thus, for each of the words set in roman type in the examples there was at least one reason not to set it in roman type according to these rules.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

… and that weren’t proper names were written in roman type. ​

But wasn’t it also based on the practical reason, that earlier blackletter fonts usually didn’t have foreign diacritical characters and so using a “French” typeface for setting “René” was the best way to go?

Link to comment

But wasn’t it also based on the practical reason, that earlier blackletter fonts usually didn’t have foreign diacritical characters and so using a “French” typeface for setting “René” was the best way to go?

For special characters, I have seen the following three solutions:

  • Setting the whole word in roman type.
  • Setting only the special character in roman type.
  • Creating blackletter variants of the special character – my blackletter Duden features amongst others a blackletter Œ (for Œuvre).

However, all works I know of only applied this to words with special characters and not to all words from languages with special characters (i.e., without the restrictions of the rules I mentioned), but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody did it somewhen. Therefore I doubt that this was the origin of these rules, but it’s difficult to make any more substantiated statement about this.

Link to comment

And because it wasn’t mentioned yet: the same thing was also common in handwriting. Here are two pictures I took today at the house of German poet Friedrich Schiller showing two letters from around 1800. Note how the Roman writing is used instead of Kurrent for foreign words as “Esplanade” and the proper name “Joseph Charles Mellish von Blÿth”. 

 

Link to comment

... however, the second page also shows that Roman writing wasn't used consistently in these cases. Last paragraph, first line, last word: "Esplanade" appears in Kurrent again. I guess the reason for using Roman writing for "Esplanade" on page one is not because it's a foreign word, but because it's a proper name (and people wanted to make sure that it is deciphered correctly).

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Graublau Sans Pro: A versatile font family with 18 styles
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We are placing functional cookies on your device to help make this website better.