Archive for Typography

How to generate fake Chinese characters automatically

On the otoro blog, there is another amazing article about sinograms:

"Recurrent Net Dreams Up Fake Chinese Characters in Vector Format with TensorFlow" (12/28/15)

I say "another amazing article" because, just a week ago, in "Character building is costly and time consuming" (12/22/15), we looked at a fascinating report on the vast amount of labor necessary to build fonts made up of real Chinese characters.  Basically, the latter report examined the history of Chinese characters and then explained how typographers create new fonts comprising all the characters necessary for printing books, newspapers, magazines, advertising copy, and so forth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Character building is costly and time consuming

I would like to call the attention of Language Log readers to an extraordinary article by Nikhil Sonnad:

"The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font " (Quartz, 12/18/15)

I knew that Nikhil was writing this article, because I helped him with the part about the historical development of the script over a month ago.  After that I didn't hear anything from him until yesterday when he sent me notice that the article had just been published.  Now that I've had a chance to read Nikhil's article, I must say that it a unique and amazing accomplishment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)


On the DramaFever website, Brendan Fitzgibbons has an interesting article that shows how "New font lets anyone learn Japanese" (10/17/14):

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (13)

Printing error on a Chinese lunch delivery bag

Eric Pelzl sent in this photograph of a bag from a lunch delivery that contains an interesting printing error:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)

Lei Feng: model soldier-citizen

If you don't know who Lei Feng is, you should.  He's China's equivalent of the Good Samaritan and Alfred E. Neuman ("What, me worry?") all wrapped up in one (for those of you who are not familiar with Alfred E. Neuman, one of my high school heroes, here's the real McCoy).

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10)

Sinographic memory in Vietnamese writing

Jason Cox sent in the following photograph of the cover of a Vietnamese religious text and asked what was going on with the "characters" along the left and right sides.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (19)


John Considine found this circa 1880 advertisement in the Hong Kong 2013 catalog of Bernard Quaritch (with the note that "We have not been able to locate any other example of this kind of trade card"):

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (27)

Too much Victor Mair

I've been reading way too much Victor Mair. In the restaurant of my hotel in London I just saw an English girl wearing a T-shirt on which it said this:


And I immediately thought, who is Ho Pe?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Misprint on Chinese money

The Taipei Times for June 27 carried the following article: "Debate rages over currency ‘misprint'".

It is a question of whether the upper part of the long form of the character for the word yī ("one"), i.e., 壹, should be written as 士 ("scholar"), the "correct" configuration, with the ends of the upper horizontal stroke extending beyond those of the lower horizontal stroke, or 土 ("land; earth"), as it appears on certain banknotes, with the ends of the upper horizontal stroke being shorter than those of the lower horizontal stroke. Fortunately, yī ("one") is usually written as 一, the simplest of all Chinese characters, consisting of only a single horizontal stroke. The complicated form 壹, with twelve strokes, is used in banking, business, and so forth, to avoid mistakes and forgery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (22)

Pen|is broken. Please use finger.

Under the rubric "Kerning 101: I rest my case on the importance of spacing", Toni Tan, Director of Cambria Press, sent me this photograph:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (26)