Sunday, 19 October 2008


The new word for today is ersatz. I was reading the article Future Tendencies in Type Design written in 1985 by Hermann Zapf in Visible Language, volume XIX number 1, and he wrote:

Janson is a typical seventeenth century typeface and should be respected as an original design of this historic period in the Netherlands. It was created out of the spirit and artistic background of that time. The Janson is, in my opinion, not at all an espression of the alphabet in the twentieth century. […] It is possible to design something new within the structure of the Janson, but we should leave the foundry design alone and create a new Janson, not just make an ersatz design.

According to Wikipedia, ersatz is a German word literally meaning substitute or replacement.


Blogger ssp said...

Hooray for Hermann Zapf.

People easily forget how modern he is!

(Wikipedia's translation is all right in a literal sense. But it may be missing the timbre. Usually speaking about things like 'Ersatzkaffee' – which may even be an english word has the connotation of it not just being a substitute but an inferior substitute. That's probably true for Zapf's statement as well.)

19 October 2008 18:14  

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