25 February 2008

Néojaponisme on Katakana Typography Reform

Matt of No-sword has posted on Néojaponisme an interesting profile of Yamashita Yoshitarō and the efforts of the Kanamojikai (カナモジカイ, “Kana Character Society”) in the 1920s to abandon kanji and convert entirely to katakana to write Japanese. Yamashita designed a katakana typewriter keyboard (similar to the current computer keyboard) and proposed typographical innovations such as word-spacing and ascenders and descenders to improve legibility over the old block-spaced typography.
In practice, this meant:

* Horizontal writing from left to right
* Spaces between words
* Careful word choice to avoid homonym problems
* New letterforms

The first three ideas are nothing special and are actually working out quite well in modern Korean. To propose new letterforms, however, takes chutzpah.

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