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You are here: Home / Conferences / Hong Kong 2012 / Programme / 11–14 October – General programme

Talnemo module, as an equivalent of italics in Hangul typesetting

When Sun 14 Oct 1140
Where Hotel Icon
Who Jiwon Yu

How can the italic type be translated grammatically and graphically into a satisfying typographic device, in treating Hangul typography with the text rendered from languages set in the Latin alphabet?

Hangul doesn’t have its own tradition of italic type. Applying punctuation marks, boldfaces, or underlining does not give enough visual effect that corresponds to italics. Slanting the type compulsively? That is, particularly in the body text, not only extraneous in the letter system of Hangul, but also distorts the shape of letters in the formative aspect.

Yes, Hangul has its own heritage of cursives. How about making full use of this heritage and developing a Hangul cursive typeface that complements its basic text typeface as a family member? It is a rational approach, but on closer examination the output of this way of type setting has turned out to be unfamiliar for Koreans ‘so far’.

‘Harmonious but not the same (화이부동, 和而不同)’, said Confucius. This thought is suggesting that the acceptance of difference and diversity is required for an ultimate harmony. Hangul is fundamentally different from the Latin alphabet not only in its form but also in the structure of its letter system. Being conscious of these differences, I’d propose an entirely different solution: ‘Talnemo module’ as a typographic device of Hangul, which is visually and semantically equivalent to italics.

‘Tal(탈)’ means ‘out of’ and ‘nemo(네모)’ means ‘square’. ‘Talnemo’ is ‘out-of-square syllabic module typefaces’. Hangul is basically a phonemic letter system, but its consonant and vowel (and often its final consonant) are grouped into a syllabic square module. The syllable ‘를’ has, for example, far more horizontal strokes than ‘이’. In regular writing or typeface, both of them are laid into a same size of strict squares. But if one writes very fast, then ‘를’ is naturally written longer than ‘이’, thus breaking out of the square form.   

In this presentation, it will be illustrated, how the Talnemo module is theoretically appropriate as an equivalent to italics, and how it appears in the real practices of Hangul type setting.

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