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What the hell is Antypography? Is that even a real word?

In case you didn’t catch it, Antypography is a play on words. Say it with me, Anti-Typography. But that’s a little too boring and not as much fun as making up a word. I could have named this site Antipography, but then it wouldn’t have the core topic explicitly in the title which I thought was a bad idea. Instead, I used a little typography myself and dropped an umlaut on the y for the logotype. Simple, yet effective.

If you don’t know what typography is, then this site probably won’t interest you much. But for those of us with an appreciation for old-school craft, this site is being created for two reasons:

  1. Demonstrate and make fun of those who naively do it wrong.
  2. Have a little fun designing and showcasing some clearly inapporporate uses of typography.

It’s going to take me awhile to get around to #2, but there should be an abundance of #1 out in the world for me to dig up and showcase. Please feel free to send any items my way that you think are worth blogging or, let me know if you prefer to be a contributor on the site. That can be arranged if we think alike ;)

Why should I care?

Typography is a dying art. Computers have made it very easy for anyone to design. And while I love the fact that the general population can create and publish easily, it’s put typography in the hands of amateurs. Gone are the days of woodblock and hot metal type. Most designers today never had to draw an entire typeface by hand, trace it in vectors and manually create all of the kerning pairs to make a functioning typeface for the computer. Sure, it was painful, but being forced to do it taught me a lot about the nuances of type.

The most common violations are the use of foot and inch marks for apostrophes and quotes. Once I can find some time to dig them up, you’ll find a lot of that here.

Despite the computer, typography can continue to be beautiful. All it takes is a little extra time (use HTML entities!) and attention to detail. Of course, a little better education in design and art schools wouldn’t hurt either. There was a time when no student left without the fundamentals burned into their brain, but that’s no longer the case. Give me one student out of a class of 25 who knows this and I’ll be impressed. Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs, but this is the world we live in. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten used to it, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do my part by ridiculing those who don’t know any better.

About Umlauts

Excerpts from Wikipedia:

Ÿ is sometimes used in transcribed Greek, where it represents the Greek letter υ (upsilon) in the non-diphthong αυ (alpha upsilon) (e.g., in the transcription Artaÿctes of the Persian name Ἀρταΰκτης at the very end of Herodotus). It also occurs in French as a variant of ï, in rare proper nouns (for instance, the name of the Parisian suburb of L’Haÿ-les-Roses).

Use of the umlaut for special effect

The umlaut diacritic can be used in “sensational spellings”, for example in advertising, or for other special effects.

As the German short /a/ is more open than the equivalent sound in English (/æ/), Germans sometimes use the diacritic <ä> to imitate the English sound in writing, giving an English “feel” to words used in advertising; in a McDonald’s restaurant in Germany one can buy a “Big Mäc”.

Since the letter ü is very common in Turkish, its inappropriate use can make a text in another language look “turkified”, a purely visual mimicry. Because of the large number of Turks living in Germany, this again is a phenomenon familiar in German. The Turkish-German satirist Osman Engin, for example, wrote a book entitled Dütschlünd, Dütschlünd übür üllüs – the opening line of the first stanza from the Lied der Deutschen, but turkified.

In the heavy metal scene, the umlaut diacritic can frequently be observed as a mere decoration (with no significance for the pronunciation) on the names of bands such as Motörhead, Mötley Crüe, or Leftöver Crack. The fictitious group Spınäl Tap places an umlaut over the <n>. An interestingly self-referential example is the Finnish group Ümlaut.

Sensational Spelling

Sensational spelling is the deliberate spelling of a word in an incorrect or non-standard way for special effects.

Sensational spellings are common in advertising and product placement. In particular, brand names such as Cadbury’s “Creme Egg” (standard English spelling: cream) or Kellogg’s “Froot Loops” (fruit) may use unexpected spellings to draw attention, and also to make an every-day word patentable. The inscription “Fish ‘n’ chips” above a chip shop is similar.

Sensational spelling may take on a cult value in popular culture. An example of this is the heavy metal umlaut.

In esoteric circles, magic is often spelled magick to differentiate it from stage magic.

Ken @ October 6, 2007