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You are here: Home / Conferences / Amsterdam 2013 / Presentation programme

The current state of Armenian typefaces

When Wed 09 Oct 1125
Where Krasnapolsky A
What Non-Latin
Who Elena Papassissa

Although Armenia is a country proud of its cultural heritage, of its language and alphabet, and eager to preserve its culture, the Armenian script has made a clear development from the early nineteenth century to its contemporary digital forms. The most notable change is the phenomenon of Latinisation of Armenian current typefaces: shapes have been altered in weight and proportions, x-height has been increased, descenders have been shortened, and terminals have been subordinated to Western choices. Because current written information on Armenian typography and reflections about the design of recent typefaces are scarce, this paper shows results from a research based mostly on an analysis of primary sources, such as first printed books, specimens, newspapers, magazines and children books. The paper addresses the Latinisation issue, whereby the use of Latin fonts impacts other font families, and the way in which Latinisation has affected the current design of Armenian typefaces. Moreover, the influence that digital technologies had in the Latinisation process is discussed. Technology has evolved extremely a great deal over the past thirty years, especially when, in 1985, the first printers and computer keyboards in Armenian letters appeared in Yerevan, allowing designers to produce Armenian typefaces for existing Latin fonts. Technology increased the production of new typefaces and made the design of new character weights easy. However, it had great effect on the design of Armenian script, which became progressively closer to Latin letters. Moreover, the automation of machines enabled designers to easily manipulate and distort existing typefaces. For example, effects such as expanding, shadowing or condensing, and slanting of Roman were applied to create more variety of styles to be used in publications. These practices are still frequently used in current printed materials. Consequently, the lack of Armenian font families is an issue that needs to be tackled. As Armenia has become closer to Europe and the importance for Armenian to be designed as part of a multi-script typeface has increased, the need to create a consistent font family matching the wide range of styles and weights of Latin typefaces should be considered by type designers. However, it might be argued that, as the concept of family is totally modern and Western, there might be a risk of emulating further features that might affect the authentic nature of Armenian letter shapes.

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