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Karen Cheng

German term for letter space ('light between the letters')

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Karen Cheng

Hello! I have a question for German type designers. I was reading an older article by Christian Mengelt ('Visual Aspects of Type' from Visual and Technical Aspects of Type). In this paper, Mr. Mengelt notes that there is a German term for letterspace that means 'the light between the letters.' Does anyone know this German term? I was curious to know this word.

LetterLight.png

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Ralf Herrmann

The usual term today would be Weißraum, which just means white space. Equating ‘white’ with ‘light’ is possible I guess, but I’m not absolutely sure he was referring to this term. 

Maybe ask him directly? http://www.mengelt-blauen.ch/kontakt.html

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Karen Cheng

Thanks for your help, Ralf! I will email him!

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Albert-Jan Pool

Dear Karen,

please note that Weißraum is not that specific. It refers to inter-character space in the first place, but it may refer to other kinds of white space such as counters and word spaces too. Also, Mengelt is Swiss and not German. Therefore it may be that he refers to a term which is used in the German speaking part of Switzerland, but is not that common in Germany. In the new version of DIN 16507-2 – Schriften, Schriftgrößen, Teil 2 (Typefaces, Type sizes, part 2) we refer to Nachbreite (left side-bearing) and Vorbreite (right side-bearing). Vorbreite and Nachbreite are common terms. Punchcutters, type casters and type setters used to refer to these as Fleisch (meat). DIN 16507-2 has been overhauled and is now up for review until the end of October this year. The new version of DIN 1451-1 – Schriften, Serifenlose Linear-Antiqua, Teil 1 (Typefaces, Sans Serif, part 1, released last year) is basically the same. We used the same terms as in DIN 16507-2. On top of that, inter-character space, the sum of right and left side-bearing is referred to as Schriftzeichenabstand.

Of course I am all ears to what Mengelt actually refers to, I would be very pleased if you could post his answer here!

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Hrant Papazian

Whitespace used to be called "meat"? How awesome is that.

Karen, that student project Osram logo is so much better than the real one... The name however is a problem in Poland, where it actually means "I poop on it".  :–)

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Albert-Jan Pool
3 hours ago, Hrant Papazian said:

The name however is a problem in Poland, where it actually means "I poop on it".  :–)

Osram was founded in 1918. Seems like they found a workaround for the Polish language issue …

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Karen Cheng

Hello All,
I did receive a kind reply from Mr. Mengelt!
See below—he used the term "Weissraum" (using two SS rather than the eszett). 
He does note that this is a Swiss German term...

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-28 at 1.37.50 PM.png

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Hrant Papazian
21 hours ago, Albert-Jan Pool said:

Osram was founded in 1918. Seems like they found a workaround for the Polish language issue …

Hah.

Karen, that "I hope this sheds some light on your question" is classic.

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