Posts Tagged ‘semiotics’

Pax Vobiscum

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Forgive me while I lead into this with my meandering thinking process and how I ended up on typography and semiotics.

It was the Ides of March yesterday. That led me to the coup on Caesar and his often quoted last words “Et tu, Brute?”. I drifted further to Latin and how much I remembered from the more cloistered days, before Pope Paul VI changed so much about the Catholic Church, including using Latin in Mass. Then I started seeing the words in type and realized how tightly correlated certain things are with certain typefaces. Are you still with me?

I had to get out of bed before dawn to set the Latin phrase, Pax Vobiscum or “Peace be with you”, in a couple of typefaces I thought were what I remembered and then threw in one I knew was wrong, just to see it in comparison.
paxvobiscum1

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you think looks more like the Catholic Missal, if you even know what that was (our little books we carried to Church every Sunday — and for many of us every day — that had the words to every Mass and its readings).

My drift here is that there are collective memories about things like type, a vox populi, if you will. Those memories contribute to the semiotics of type. If you look at the examples above — all serif typefaces — you can see very clear differences and, if you are part of the collective Catholic consciousness, or perhaps even other Christian faiths, only one or two of these actually look right.

And, while I’m at it, you should note that they are all set in 60 point type. Yep, they’re all the same size. So if you ever decide to tell your designer that they MUST use a certain point size because some hack told you that things must always be set in a certain size, think again. It depends on the typeface. And the typeface always tells a story.

Pax vobiscum.

Casey Hrynkow is a partner in Herrainco Brand Strategy+ Design Inc. a design firm based in Vancouver British Columbia