kimberley crofts


an information and communication designer living in London

Typographical linguistics

Crystal, D (1998). ‘Toward a typographical linguistics’. In Type.

What is linguistics? “Explaining how we communicate meanings to each other, using the spoken or written medium, is what linguistics is all about.”

Linguistic meaning as a result of typographic style “For typography to convey linguistic meaning, we would need to be able to identify those typographic features which are the source of the way a particular word, phrase, sentence, or text is to be interpreted.” How can someone identify it as a caption? What are the typographic conventions of the genre?

Why linguistics and typography should work together “…it seems to me that the explication of printed language needs the expertise of both typographers and linguists, in order to provide a complete description of its forms and stuctures and a satisfactory explanation of its functions and effects.”

5 levels within linguistics
(1) graphetics (2) graphology (3) sentence-grammer (syntax) (4) word-grammar (morphology) (5) semantics

Questions from the author regarding the importance of typography to linguistics “How do the various features of typography relate to the need to communicate meaning? To what extent do the various features of typography convey linguistic meaning? To what extent do they impede the communication of that meaning?”

Linguistic contrast “And it prompts the through that maybe typographic effects are most efficiently linguistically contrastive only when they are used with linguistic units which are already meaningful–such as a word, a phrase, or a sentence.” seems obvious to me, but that is coming from a trained typographer. A single letter would be sucessfully constrastive if used as a drop cap, but that is perhaps the only place where convention allows us to read it within a word unit and the styling does not become disruptive. I am led here to think about emotional captioning for deaf people and how it used word units as the indicators of emotion.


Filed under: linguistics,

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