Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dutch characters

My language, Dutch, has a few specific characters, not found in any other language. Besides that we use the diacritics in a peculiar manner. Not to change the sound of a vowel (like the Umlaut in German), but to indicate a specifiek pronunciation. For instance, the word zoëven (so avon) is pronounced differently than zoeven (soofin). A typeface should have these letters with two dots above them, in order to produce texts in Dutch.
Another character that we cherish is the ligature i-j, that over the years has become a character of its own. Some fonts do have this ligature, such as Ancestory SF that I used to produce the word Lijst (Dutch for list). It is not a good idea to simulate this ij by placing two dots on an ypsilon (ÿ), the difference is just too great.

And finally the long f, the earstwhile symbol for our national currency the Guilder. It used to be called Florin, hence the letter f. This symbol is not used very much any more, but it survives in the heading of Het Financieele Dagblad, the biggest financial newspaper in The Netherlands. On the image (top) a copy of the FD's heading on their website. For more information in Dutch about fonts, typefaces and their use, you may consult Alexander Overdiep's website.

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