Tuesday, 7 August 2012


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, was originally meant to have a cat (felis catus) on board. Initially, the idea was just a joke made by an anonymous board member, but no one seemed to get the irony. It was only when scientists told the administrator, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., that a cat would have “a Laika's chance in space” of surviving such a trip, that the idea was put to rest. A very fortunate turn of events for Mr. Snuggles, who had already been picked out.

The interesting part (and the reason it has relevance to typoguistics) is that these scientists were not in fact astronomers but linguists, and had based their findings on a common saying. “And even if this is not an exact science,” said one of the scientists “we can't risk it for the sake of NASA's reputation.”

Quotation mark

Quo·ta·tion marks [kʰwɔʊ̯ˈtʰɛɪ̯ʃən mɑːk] are a set of symbols surrounding a quote. Their shapes vary from language to language. First there are the inverted commas, which can be either single or double, and either dumb or smart.
Single, Double; "Dumb", Smart
Dumb quotes look the same on either side, and this was the only way to do it with a typewriter. But smart quotes (or typographic quotes) look different, depending on whether they are opening (or beginning) the quote or closing (ending) it. And these different quotes also have language-specific forms. English, for example, uses 6-shaped opening quotes and 9-shaped closing quotes:
In German these are opposite and the opening quotes are low, resembling commas.
And then there is the Swedish way...
Pretty dumb, if you ask this author. But wait it gets worse. Read on to see what Finnish does.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Semicolon, semiquestionmark and semiexclamationmark

Se·mi·co·lon [ˌsemɪˈkoʊ̯lən] is a punctuationmark found at the unicode point U+003B ⟨;⟩. It has similar uses to comma ⟨,⟩ and full stop ⟨.⟩. It can be thought of as a supercomma or a weak period. The supercomma sense can be seen in lists where each item has a relative clause with it:
“Peter bought the following items: milk, which is rich in calcium; oranges, which contain vitamin-C; and rye bread, which has lots of fibers.”
Because commas are already used in the description of each item, the semicolon is used for seperating them at one level above the comma.

The weak period is used when two grammatically seperate clauses have a connection discourse-wise:
“I have to go now; my train leaves in five minutes.”
So it is somewhere between a comma and a period, which is why this auther loves this element of punctuation. One should note, however, that it is highly addictive; it is very difficult to stop, once one has started using semicolons. They should not be over-used; one per page is more than enough. (Oops!)

In Greek a symbol identical to the semicolon is used as a questionmark. Only, it has a seperate unicode point: U+037E ⟨;⟩.

Speaking of questionmarks, there should be a semiquestionmark and a semiexclamationmark, for when the first of two clauses seperated by a comma is a question or an exclamation. Concider this sentence for example:
“Did you do your written assignment, because I haven't recieved it?”
This is how you would write it as it is now, but with a semiquestionmark it would make much more sense:

Sunday, 22 July 2012


Ty·po·gui·stics (pronounced [ˌtʰɑɪ̯poʊ̯ˈɡwɪstɪks] or [ˌtʰɑɪ̯ˈpɔɡwɪstɪks]) is an interdisciplinary field of study, which combines typography and linguistics. The term was coined by Christian Munk (me), who has for a long time been interested in both fields and their interaction. Related studies include applied linguistics, semiotics, visual communication and possibly more.

It is also the name of this blog on the very subject of typoguistics. It is a blog written in a jokingly encyclopædic fashion, and based on equal amounts of science, design and sarcasm . It will seek to improve the way people read and write by informing the public about typography – for example which unicode-characters one should not confuse, e.g. ⟨ø⟩ and ⟨⌀⟩, or when to use an em-dash; encouraging radical solutions – such as the irony mark ⟨؟⟩; analysing real world signage; and suggesting new characters. There will also be plenty of illustrations, IPA and cartoons to back my claims.

All in all, a smorgesbord of language and type.