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Armenian typography book

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I am looking for a book about Armenian typography. I am mostly interested in the rules of the script. What I know is through experience in my father's printshop and my own conclusions. I would like to read something to advance my knowledge.

Probably Hrant knows of some books, or maybe has writen a book or an article about it?

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I'm not aware of any books in English on Armenian typography per se, and have not seen any books that treat the script in terms of typesetting rules or as a style manual. There is a quite good book in French, Le livre arménien à travers les âges, which shows good examples of traditional Armenian typography, and I have a volume in Italian on Armenian printing at the monastery of San Lazzaro in Venice.

The best book by far on the Armenian script is Album of Armenian paleography, but this deals with handwriting and formal manuscripts, not typography.

Carolyn Puzzovio presented an overview of the history of the Armenian script, including some recent type designs, at the ATypI conference in Helsinki last week. She may know of books dealing with Armenian typographic practice, if they exist, and will be in Yerevan next month. I can put you in touch if you send me an e-mail: tiro[at]tiro.com

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In order to help you I would like to know what exactly you want. Do you need a book about history of Armenian scripting, information who create it, or you just want to get as many Armenian scripts as possible.
There are some books printed in Armenia, but they are kind of portfolios of typographers - the book authors'.

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My own experience tells me such books are hard to find.

The book John mentioned is a great resource of the Armenian manuscript hands. Here's a preview:

I found one in the British Library
Gortsakalyan, Hayk. "Haykakan taratesakner". Yerevan: Academy of Sciences of Soviet Armenia, 1973

and another two in the Armenian Institute in London
Mnatsakanyan, Henrik. "Armenian typefaces". Yerevan: Ayastan, 1979
Afrikyan (or Africkian), Fred. "The art of letter-type; 120 tables of Armenian decorative types". Yerevan: Sovetakan Grogh Publishers, 1984

The last one is more about calligraphy and display types than typography.

Hope this helps.
Contact me directly if you need more details: miguelsousa (at) go (dot) online (dot) pt

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Thanks John & Mike for the info.

Tigran, I need the history of the script including additions/changes, and rules, not grammatical rules but scripting rules, typographic rules.

I did not expect to find any foreign (English) books covering the subject, that is why I asked if Hrant has any information.

The Album of Armenian paleography looks very interesting, and pretty expensive. I will probably not use all the info in that book, since it is more oriented towards manuscript analysis.

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Levon, I haven't yet found a book specifically dealing with Armenian typographic guidelines - although I suspect there is one, maybe done either a long time ago (think the Mekhitarians) or maybe quite recently (Soviet times). What can be useful though are books about grammar, or language in general. I do have one book (actually in photocopy form) which has been more useful than most, since it deals with how each letter/character is used: "Oughagrakan Bararan Hayeren Lezvi" (Orthographic Dictionary of Armenian Language) by Artashes Abeghian, 1947. It also contains a list of 15,000 Armenian root words (useful for building a spelling checker, I mean a good one, not like the ones we currently have, something my brother was attempting a while back).

Some other useful books (like one detailing the differences between Eastern and Western Armenian, a critical thing to be aware of) I acquired from the famed "Vernissage" flea market in Yerevan in 2000; there I found many specimen books (like the ones Miguel mentions) for like $3 each, as well as linguistic books (like letter frequencies, etc.). If you've never been there, go as soon as you can. And the rest of the country is even more amazing! I've been dying to go back, and I probably will next Summer.

"Album of Armenian paleography" is staggeringly good. I found out about it thanks to John, and will undoubtedly buy it one day. For now I've made one long trip to the UCLA library with a digital camera, and a tripod. :-) And although it's true that it deals with manuscripts, it's extremely useful in terms of: rediscovering old ideas of how to make letters, especially tricky ones like the "ho"; and when you make a funny shape and some people complain, these are exactly the type of people you can shut up by showing that it's been done before. :-)

> maybe has writen a book or an article about it?

Book? No way. :-/ Article? Well, I've given talks about "Latinization", including an emphasis on Armenian, in Rome and Thessaloniki; and through this topic I've delved into how a non-Latin script should use the Cartesian area (e.g. NOT like Latin), ending up with an article that's been published in Spatium magazine (#4) and will shortly appear in the Greek "Hyphen" publication as well. It's called "Latinization: prevention and cure" and one thing it shows it the ergonomy?, topology?, of the Armenian script and how to make it most... comfortable. So it's not exactly what you're looking for, but sort of a wider/deeper look at the entire structure of what I feel the Armenian scripts needs to be.

1) John, please do put me in touch with Puzzovio!
2) A big welcome to Tigran.


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Thanks Hrant,

I've been to vernissage several times but never saw any of these books or even similar ones. Since you mentioned it, and since Puzzovio will be there next month, I am thinking of going there myself. I will have the chance to meet Puzzovio and visit vernisssage to check the books.

Any chance you can send me your articles/interviews?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tigran, since you are in Yerevan, can you check the books that Hrant mentioned at vernissage? I will not be able to go to Armenia, although I would have loved to meet Puzzovio.

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  • 6 years later...

7 years later: Check out http://granshan.org/ - its been few years since they are holding international competitions and symposiums about Armenian typography. Some beautiful typefaces have been designed since. I hope you enjoy it. Find me on Facebook (Ruben Malayan), because I also have a lot of material about Armenian calligraphy which is the womb of Armenian lettertypes. My research is on http://15levels.com/art/armeniancalligraphy/

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  • 10 years later...

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