Evidently, attending the conference was a big tax upon my resources – I didn’t post anything at all in June.
Even so, I still had lots of ideas for content swirling around in my head. To get the ball rolling again, I’ll start talking about something small: ligatures in typography.
In typography, ligatures are when two letters written in sequence fuse together to appear as one character. Typically, the use of ligatures in English is restricted to letters following a lower-case “F” and even then, they don’t occur in many common typefaces. However, I do have some examples to show you, using that ever-trusty typeface Caslon:
In the image above, the “F” and “L” merge together in fly, and we see an interesting example of a double ligature in waffle. Perhaps the most unusual example I’ve provided is the third word. What is Umuofia?
Umuofia is a word that was the bane of my first year in University. As part of my introductory course in International Development Studies (one of the fields I eventually chose to major in) at Trent University, my class had to read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – Umuofia was the village that the story took place in.
And why was that word the bane of my studies? Because of that goddamned ligature – how on Earth was that last set of characters supposed to be pronounced? Feee-ah? Feee-yah? Fyah? I was convinced that the ligature was not simply a convenient way of typesetting the letters “F” and “I”, but that it was a special diacritical mark affecting the entire pronunciation of the name – was the second “U” silent? Where did the emphasis fall? It drove me to distraction.
So, ligatures. As I found out in my book production course at Ryerson, they are not in fact some fancy literary device – at most, they are a fancy aesthetic device, and that makes all the difference.