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You are here: Home / Conferences / Montréal 2017 / Programme

How *not* to draw accents

When Wed 13 Sep 1200
Where UQAM, Cœur des sciences
Who David Jonathan Ross

As a native English speaker, I draw hundreds of accented Latin characters in my fonts that I will never use myself. These can easily become a source of stress, because of their unfamiliarity and their sheer quantity; I often find myself wondering, “Am I doing this right?”

In this presentation, I will tell the story of how I learned to stop worrying and love accents. I will begin by sharing some of the excellent resources out there and discussing some of the common rules of accent drawing. Then I will show how often vernacular signs will completely break these rules, employing inventive and unusual diacritical shapes to great effect.

I will talk about how I search for atypical accents in my travels and adopt these unconventional forms in my typeface designs. Finding a balance between usability and specificity, I will discuss how I have consulted with native speakers to determine the readability and appropriateness of vernacular accent shapes. I will provide examples of contemporary type designs that demonstrate diacritical ingenuity, proving that the least objectionable form of an accent might not necessarily be the perfect one.

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