Bruce Dykes bkd at GRAPHNET.COM
Fri Nov 12 15:50:24 UTC 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Pafra & Scott Catledge <scplc at GS.VERIO.NET>
Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 9:00 AM
Subject: Re: CAPITALS,

>Concatenating replies to save header space; sorry if it inconveniences


>1. CAPITAL LETTERS.  Everything that has been said so far jibes with what
>I've heard. Two devil's advocate questions:
>a) If capital letters are harder to read, why was the old typewriter font
>called Orator, designed for typing speeches in big letters, an all-caps
>font?  OK, there were large caps and small caps, but they were all caps.

The 'hard to read' description I think was meant to apply to letters of the
same size, not form. With small caps and large caps, you still get the same
sort of positioning cues as with upper and lower case, but since the letters
are all the same shape, it presumably reads faster than pages in mixed case.
The orator needs to be looking at the audience, not reading from the
lectern. His pages serve as cues, no literature. I don't expect there's a
noticeable speed increase. Might make for an interesting experiment

>b) If letters without ascenders and descenders are harder to read, how has
>e.g. the Cyrillic alphabet survived without significant modification?
>One of the reasons I've had a hard time learning to read Russian, Hebrew,
>Chinese, etc. is that these require making fine discriminations about
>features in the interior of a character, rather than just recognizing the
>overall shape of a word.

Russians, Chinese, and readers of Hebrew are masochists.

I don't think alphabets are generally all that plastic. There are font and
typeface variations, to be sure, and perhaps these can serve as analogs to
accent and dialect, but I think the main impetus behind alphabetic variation
is technology, not readability (excepting handwriting).


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