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devanagari in multi-script t ypography


devanagari in multi-script t ypography

A critical enquiry into the development of notions of multi-script typography, for the combination of Devanagari and Latin scripts

Vaibhav Singh MA Typeface Design, University of Reading September 2011


abstract

Multi-script typography has commonly been considered from the point of view of technical limitations and practical difficulties arising from combining scripts with very different typographic characteristics. In the context of Devanagari and Latin scripts combined together in books, there are many different factors that shaped the idea of multi-script typography at any given point in the history of its development, and this dissertation will analyse and explore how factors in addition to technology and methods of manufacture also affected layout, typography and letterforms in multi-script compositions, mainly up to the dawn of digital technologies, and what their implications are for present practise. This dissertation considers within its scope of study only the Devanagari and Latin scripts, used in combination, mainly in books. It does not attempt a comprehensive survey, but is restricted to an analytical and critical study of the underlying ideas of typographic practice through representative examples that are pertinent to the subject of multi-script typography.


contents

Introduction  9

1 Responding to a brief  17 Developing standards  23 Changing requirements  25

2 Technological factors  29

Physical limitations  31 Dematerializing type  41

3 Realizing programmes  43

Governance and evangelization  43 Pedagogical shifts  45 House style regulations  53 Reforms and agendas  57

4 Feasibility economics  65

Financial considerations  65 Real-world typography  69

5 Towards a critical understanding  75

Note on illustrations  81 Bibliography  83 Acknowledgements  92


Introduction

Multi-script typography has, in recent years, returned to a level of prominence comparable to the time when challenges of printing in new languages and scripts were first encountered and gave rise to an enthusiastic bevy of activity. The new surge of interest derives from changes in technology that have not only made possible rendering complex scripts correctly for the first time,1 but have also facilitated the sociological transformation brought about by the Internet in terms of access and accessibility of information across the former limitations of national and geographic boundaries. In this changed context it is useful to look at the developments and revisions the practice of multi-script typography has undergone and examine the notions that have been at the root of the practice at different points in time. Although traditionally the unsuitability and various shortcomings of production methods and machinery have been the overriding issue in the composition of Indic scripts, the complexities of multi-script typography lie not only in technological issues but in many other fundamental problems of combining different scripts. Even within a given period and manner of production, historically, there have usually been many different ways in which challenges presented by multi-script settings were tackled.2 These came about as a result of a differing set of criteria, approaches, ideologies or developments, not only in the field of type manufacture and design 1. Fiona Ross, ‘An approach to non-Latin type design’, in Language culture type (2002) AtypI, Graphis. p. 74 2. See, for instance, John Shakespear’s A grammar of the Hindustani language (1826) and Franz Bopp’s Ausführliches Lehrgebäude der Sanskrita-Sprache (1827) both of which present a different view on the relative vertical alignment of the scripts.


Figure 1 Various forms of rendering bibliography in an assortment of Hindi books. The articulation and differentiation achievable in more complex texts in Latin script should be compared with the above. Here, a slanted version is used for titles (middle) following Latin examples, a bolder version is also used (top) for the same, and the bottom example uses only spatial formatting to achieve the differentiation between types of information. (Enlarged 120% of original size) Source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London.


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but in content itself, in methods of transmitting information and changes in pedagogical theories (especially as the most prominent of multi-script documents have, for a substantial period, tended to connect with grammar and language-learning). This essay will attempt to delve deeper into the issues of multi-script typography in Devanagari and Latin and, in particular, to examine how approaches to combining these two scripts were developed, how these notions changed over time and what factors effected this change: thus forming a backdrop to an analysis of the notions of multi-script typography in the present context.

approach and objectives

The contemplation of the development of the multi-script typography of Devanagari and Latin, in this essay, does not imply a chronological succession of events or publications as this study is mainly concerned with the underlying ideas of the practice and their manifestations, which may not always form a linear progression. The approach instead focuses on issues of importance in considering typographic composition in the two scripts, the interrelated nature of type-design and typographic design for such settings, and factors which form the legacy and continue to be pertinent in both theory and practice in this field. Multi-script typography, besides giving rise to an entirely new set of considerations, necessitates – in however small a measure – dealing with a mutual transposition of challenges that are otherwise particular to each script. How Devanagari and Latin scripts used together affect each other’s typography is a subject which has not been explored to a great extent. An instance of this could be demonstrated in a multi-script setting that demands a greater level of articulation and differentiation in hierarchy, like bibliographies. The devices used in Latin, such as small-capitals, italics, letterspacing etc, present a challenge in terms of representing the same information in Devanagari (see Fig. 1) in an articulated manner and pertinent solutions are necessitated by the sheer demands of multiscript composition, if not otherwise. Similarly, given the structure of Devanagari, with possibilities for letterforms and conjuncts to extend both above and below the average activity zone (see Fig. 2),


युऎ ��ी����ट�वै�� �ĝ,Ęĥa*ĺ7Ű�y’f Highest glyph

Activity zone

Deepest glyph Devanagari (using vertical conjuncts as in Sanskrit texts)

Latin (with diacritical marks and all other features)

Devanagari (linear setting without vertical conjuncts, as used in Hindi)

Latin (without diacritical marks as used for English)

60 pt

Figure 2 A comparative diagram showing the average activity zone for texts in one typeface in Devanagari and Latin respectively, and also demonstrating the instances of maximum height and depth that glyphs in each script occupy. This is by no means an indication of the general texture of the text, which is concentrated more or less around the activity zones and will depend on other factors like the language the text is used for, but the areas above and below indicate the space that would be required to accommodate the occurrence of any of these glyphs without clashing or clipping.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

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a different set of criteria is warranted not only in page-level typographic considerations (line-spacing, overall colour etc), but also in the design of letterforms themselves to achieve a harmonious relationship between the typography of the two scripts. Within the confines of a single typeface, the diagram (Fig. 2) will make it clear that a greater part of the composites and conjuncts in Devanagari is accommodated below the average activity zone while in Latin it is the area above that is utilized. This would imply considerations not only in terms of line spacing but also letter-level details like ascenders and descenders or contextual modifications to letterforms. The objectives of this study are to analyse specific issues, such as these, in the two scripts through past examples in the light of present possibilities and attempt to formulate a wider understanding of multi-script typography than has till now been presented. It is also, in a limited sense, the intention of this study to attempt to contextualize typographic practice in the editorial and cultural framework, of which it forms an integral part. scope of study

Though there exists some literature on multi-script typography in general, it is only in dealing with a defined set of scripts and their combination that a more thorough and detailed study can be made, in order to identify the specific characteristics and address the problems involved. The scope of this study is, therefore, limited in many ways, especially in dealing with only two scripts, Devanagari and Latin, and linguistically, dealing mostly with books produced in Sanskrit, Hindi and English. Since both the scripts considered here are used for the typographic expression of more than one language, it is not possible to consider at any length the degree of variation arising from all the permutations, as it is categorically not the intention to investigate that aspect. The examples of works discussed and illustrated here admittedly cover a very small portion of the typographic spectrum, but they are in some way either representative of their contexts, or important in highlighting certain themes. Although any document that contains more than one script can be considered a multi-script document, the attention here is directed to book settings that present Devana-


Theodore benfey A Sanskrit-English dictionary (1866) Longmans, Green and Co, London. 212 Ă— 135 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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gari and Latin at least on the same spread, with the argument that a juxtaposition, in this or other ways, highlights issues of script combinations not otherwise exposed, and these issues have facilitated the development of a whole new set of considerations for type design in the scripts involved. Dictionaries, which are an obvious and prominent manifestation of multi-script usage, have been mostly omitted, as the typography there is concerned more with distinction and hierarchy (Fig. 3) whereas the concerns of this study are harmonization and equivalence, especially in extended-text settings. A considerable number of examples cited in this study belong to the genre of grammar books or language-instruction books as these formed (and still do) a fertile ground for the practice of a more complex multi-script typography. The issues that present-day requirements of mixed setting have to tackle are very close to the ones that were foregrounded in these publications within their own contexts. The scope of this study is also limited to the extent that it does not systematically cover the entire typographic history of Devanagari and Latin, but attempts a selective and thematic analysis of the considerations which seem, at present, relevant towards developing an understanding of multi-script typography and the practice of designing typefaces for use in such settings. The intention is to comprehend and contextualize the development of multi-script typography in a broader sense: the focus is not on one specific theme but rather on the interaction of various themes, within a modest scope, and many more could possibly be added to those explored in this essay.

Figure 3 In dictionary settings, as shown opposite, it could be argued that nuances of multi-script typography like vertical alignments, weight, and colour balance etc, are subservient to the demands of distinction and hierarchy and therefore, on the whole, dispensable. Since one script is represented solely as headwords, it might in fact be detrimental to the typography if the two scripts were to be harmonized on the basis of style, colour and weight.


It is remarkable that, as above, the relative size of the Devanagari types remained larger compared to the Latin in multi-script texts up to the hot-metal era. This cannot be explained entirely on the basis of difficulties in cutting type in metal (Pearl and Diamond sizes were cut for Latin). In the absence of definite models to base the types on, it seems more likely that hand-written forms, and therefore their scale limitations, formed the basis of many types. Also, the tools used to write out the models, on which the types were based, at least in this case, must not have been the traditional ones but what were available at that time and place (flexible nib pen?).

Figure 1.1 Alphabetum Brammhanicum seu Indostanum Universitatis KasĂ­. (1771) Typis Sac. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, Rome. 172 Ă— 115 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


part 1

Responding to a brief

The practise of using two scripts within a composition was not new when the requirements for incorporating Devanagari within Latin texts arose. Grammars and language books had combined Greek and even Arabic before, with varying degrees of success, and the practice must not have presented problems without precedent in typography. However, where type was concerned it was clearly a new set of considerations and the new writing system had issues that, at least to some extent, were encountered for the first time. As there was a scribal tradition but no typographic tradition in Devanagari to draw upon, the local assistance that could have been acquired in devising the shapes of letterforms was nonexistent when it came to typography. (That typography provides a vastly different level of control in handling text and possibilities that could be alien to writing is a view that has been discussed by many other authors elsewhere and may not bear repetition.) It could be argued that typography is implicit in the design of type – even in the present circumstances where type no longer has physical limitations – and in the case of Devanagari metal type, it hardly needs emphasizing. The characteristic limitations, inherent in producing the physical form of letters in metal, have shaped the typography of Devanagari for most of its typographic history and traces of these can be found even in its digital form. It is understood that the earliest exhaustive treatment of Hindi grammar1 occurs in Alphabetum Brammhanicum of 1771, incorporating for the first time, movable types in Devanagari (Fig. 1.1). This is significant in more ways than one since it is a grammatical work 1. Tej K. Bhatia, A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition (1987) E.J. Brill. p. 58


Figure 1.2 charles wilkins A grammar of the Sanskrita language (1808) W. Bulmer and Co, London. 262 Ă— 200 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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as opposed to an exhibition of exotic scripts (an unwittingly precise term in this context). This genre specification goes a long way in defining a particular brief. Letterforms of the new script are not only required to appear within the typographic layout of the Latin text, they are also required to function, for the first time, as typographic units: letters, words and lines. Although Devanagari characters did make their appearance in books before 1771, this is certainly the beginning of the ‘typography’ of Devanagari in general, as well as that of multi-script typography in Devanagari and Latin. Despite the context of a first foray into Devanagari types, in its typographic arrangement, the text uses two different forms of combination: the isolated word as a unit, and a whole line as another1, two definite forms of multi-script setting that point to fundamental issues of combination. Although here the Devanagari types are not very well formed, the typography inaugurates most of these issues: relative sizes, alignments, line spacing etc. Lines of text with Devanagari words necessitate wider line spacing which is varied based on the occurence of particular forms (see marked line spacing, Fig 1.1) and not on a fixed system. In contrast to this, Charles Wilkins’s A grammar of the Sanskrita language of 1808, already adopts a systematic approach2 in response to a similar brief (Fig. 1.2), through a more open but consistent line spacing for both Devanagari and Latin. The Latin typography here is regulated by the spatial requirements of Devanagari, even where no Devanagari appears. The line spacing is based on an average, in order to work for both scripts, and does not accommodate the maximum height and depth of Devanagari character combinations that occur within the text – and where these occur in successive lines, it runs into problems, which are sometimes handled rather curiously (Fig. 1.3). Being the pioneering works, both Alphabetum Brammhanicum and A grammar of the Sanskrita language addressed a brief that 1. The interlinear approach in presenting a part of the text predates a much later development in foreign-language acquisition books made popular by the so called Hamiltonian system, discussed in Part 3 (Pedagogical shifts). 2. The period of more than thirty-five years between the two publications (1771– 1808) could be misleading: it was not until 1796 that another important application of Devanagari occured, but this was in a secondary capacity in John Gilchrist’s A grammar of the Hindoostanee language, and Wilkins’s book is practically the next comprehensive use of Devanagari in multi-script typography after Alphabetum.


charles wilkins A grammar of the Sanskrita language (1808) W. Bulmer and Co, London. 262 Ă— 200 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

Reconstructed forms

Figure 1.3 In the contents listing of Charles Wilkins’s book, the omission of the ‘Fifth species’ (as marked opposite) is an interesting unnoticed error (not mentioned in the Errata), most probably on the part of a compositor. Not only is the ‘Fifth species’ omitted, a conscious addition of ‘The’ to the ‘Sixth species’ is definitely in order to avoid the unpleasant clash of the ukar and the reph. The line spacing has also been augmented between the ‘Fourth species’ and the ‘Sixth species’. It is rather intriguing, as the insertion of the ‘Fifth species’ does not avoid the clashing (see reconstruction above), nor does a change to the ‘Sixth’, leaving us to speculate whether the issue played on the compositor’s mind too prominently and whether this omission was deliberate.

21


A remarkably different approach to multi-script combnations of Latin, Greek and Devanagari: while the Greek blends in with the Latin text, the Devanagari stands out. The matras in Devanagari are flattened probably in order to fit them within a tighter line-spacing. Figure 1.4 august wilhelm von schlegel Bhagvat-Gita (1823) Academia Borussica Rhenana, Bonn. 225 Ă— 148 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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required a fair amount of innovation in dealing with the types and typography of Devanagari, and set the precedent for a line of works to follow in multi-script composition. developing standards

The early nineteenth century was a remarkably productive period for grammars in Indian languages, produced mainly in Europe but also in India. The tremendous rise of interest in Sanskrit and its literature, resulted in a great deal of activity in book production, on the one hand, for scholarly purposes, and on the other, as a useful step towards grasping the vernaculars of various regions (especially as Sanskrit was acknowledged as the foundation for and connecting strand between the languages of India) which would help in administration and governance. The grammar books that followed early attempts in multi-script typography, interpreted the brief in their own capacities, while progressively moving towards a somewhat standardized approach. Two main approaches to combining Devanagari and Latin can be identified in this period. The first is a clear separation on a sectional basis where Devanagari text appears on its own and the Latin translation or commentary follows. This is very often the case with works of literature or poetry and some religious texts. The second is what can be called the mixed format, where Devanagari appears interspersed within Latin text on the same page. This is common for grammars and explanatory or annotated parts of other books (see Fig. 1.4). The latter is of more interest here. Variations of these two were applied to different books and often even in the same book in two different sections. A prominent feature of the whole period remains the relative size of the Devanagari types which continued being comparatively much larger than their Latin counterparts. It can be reasonably argued that the typographic evolution of Devanagari letterforms took a considerably longer time than the broader notions of Devanagari typography itself. Ideas of layout and composition were certainly simpler to implement or integrate with prevailing practices and the difficulties the script presented in its smaller units – letters and letter-combinations – and the issue of character set were not easily


Figure 1.5 franz bopp Ausführliches Lehrgebäude der Sanskrita-Sprache (1827) Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin. 265 × 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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resolved in metal type. The issue of alignment with respect to Latin is an interesting example of experimentations that went towards defining the understanding of the typographic structure of Devanagari. It is instructive to note the changes in the notional baseline in Devanagari combined with Latin, which is an important factor in determining the typographic outcome. Different approaches to this typographic matching are evinced in works from different periods and places. In Fig. 1.1 the given sizes of Devanagari types are roughly centered vertically in relation to the x-height of the Latin text. This has the effect of lowering the headline (shirorekha) of the Devanagari text and letting the botom part of letters extend below. Fig. 1.2 on the other hand, shows Wilkins’s approach in bringing the base letters up, forming a notional baseline aligning with the Latin baseline, below which the occasional vowel signs can extend. It is noteworthy that in spite of Charles Wilkins’s pioneering and widely recognized work, later European books adopted something closer to the older method of centred alignment of letterfoms (Fig 1.4, Fig. 1.5). In Fig. 1.5 opposite, it is even more remarkable that two different sizes of Devanagari types are employed, the smaller of them almost conforming to the x-height of the Latin; which brings into question the approach used for the main text: was this simply the continuation of the usual practice or was there any typographic design intended through the use of comparatively larger type (easier for learners or beginners to identify shapes in the unfamiliar script) or does this point simply to the rudimentary development of the ideas of multi-script typographic composition? changing requirements

Compared to the earlier requirements that comprised the brief for Devanagari in multi-script typography, the mechanization of type manufacture and composition brought with it a different set of criteria (the technological aspect of which is discussed in the next chapter). Initially directed at the newspaper market, hot-metal was later adopted for the needs of book production in India. The nature of the process necessitated, perhaps for the first time, a firm definition of shapes of letters. The introduction of the drawn letterform, needed for production, provided a new platform for considering the


The mechanization of type-making and composition changed the architecture of the multi-script page in Devanagari and Latin. A more compatible size was paired with the main text above, though the colour of the Devanagari is slightly darker. Characteristic problems of hot-metal technology are visible here, especially with the positioning of vowel signs (see marked above).

Figure 1.6 H.C. scholberg Concise grammar of the Hindi language (1950) Oxford University Press, Bombay. 172 Ă— 116 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

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typographic characteristics of the script and its structural/visual relation to the Latin alphabet. Standards of production meant that different scripts would need to work within the parameters of the machinery that was equipped originally for the needs of the Latin script. This became apparent, in a physical sense, for instance, in the issues of limited character sets and kerning possibilities which were necessary for a proper rendering of Devanagari. The Linotype machine implied a set of standards, and made a few decisive changes in the typography of mixed-script settings in Devanagari and Latin. The desired line-spacing could be determined in advance in Linotype composition which meant a step away from the earlier practices of variable line-spacing where Devanagari characters appeared. The 1933 announcement pamphlet for ‘Devanagari Linotype’ states: The Devanagari Linotype will compose English, or any language in Roman script, with equal facility, and all can be mixed in the same line.1

Some of the shortcomings of hot-metal technology were eliminated by the arrival of photocomposition and many issues of the script, like positioning, overlaps etc were better resolved that could not have been easily remedied in metal with the clear physical limitations of type. Dematerialization of type transformed the concerns of multi-script typography and shifted the focus to finer issues of harmonization of the two scripts. The technological context of the development of Devanagari typography is discussed next.

1. Announcing Devanagari Linotype for composing Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and various other vernaculars of India with the ease, speed and economy of English (1933) Mergenthaler Linotype Company


अां अां अां की � Anusvara centred over the last kana

Anusvar centred visually over the whole letter

Anusvar centred metrically over the whole letter

Standard Matra ending away from vertical

Modified Matra ending aligned to the vertical

Figure 2.1 A specimen (top) showing three different renderings of Devanagari by three different methods of composition: hand-set type, the Monotype and the Linotype version. In metal, the almost insurmountable problems of the writing system, where marks have to be positioned both above and below and letters to be modified according to the context, shaped the typographic expression of Devanagari and introduced features based on the capacities of the machine – features which form a strong legacy for typefaces today. The ambiguities (bottom) that a long period of limitations-ridden composition led to, are implicitly accepted as standard practice due to familiarization and perhaps lack of alternatives. Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


part 2

Technological factors

The technology of production has been the overriding issue with the type manufacture and typography of Devanagari, right from the outset. In applying the methods of traditional type founding and typography to an altogether different writing system, substantial difficulties were encountered, which delayed the beginning of typographic work in Devanagari. The printing press had already arrived in India1 by the year 1556 and an attempt to cast Devanagari types was reportedly undertaken2 around 1577, which did not come to fruition. The problem of appropriate technology has been at the heart of Devanagari typography and one could argue that hand-set type and typesetting methods in metal were not entirely suited to the alphasyllabic system of Devanagari which required an amount of variation that would have seemed inordinate compared to what was required for Latin. The technology of production determined not only the letterforms, but also the format of the material produced. It is notable that the landscape format that was usual for the scribal practices in Devanagari, gave way to the standards the press brought with itself. With the format, new issues arose, of hyphenation and justification, of alignments and spacing, and with it a new awareness of the composition of the script which must have been difficult to interpret in ways not already familiar through the typography of Latin. Prominently, the concept of typographic units: letters, words, lines, paragraphs etc, were new additions. Word spaces introduced in Sanskrit 1. Anant K. Priolkar, The printing press in India (1958) Marathi Sanshodhan Mandal. 2. Graham Shaw, ‘The evolution of types in Devanagari script’, in Monotype Recorder (1980) New series, no.2. p. 29


Figure 2.2 A specimen of hot-metal Linotype Devanagari as printed in a magazine. October 1963. 210 Ă— 140 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


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show how the interaction of different systems of interpreting the written form of language can affect one another. physical limitations

The Devanagari writing system presented problems of some magnitude for metal type. The vowel forms that combine with the consonants required large overhangs and even variation in width for different letters. Not only that, but letters combined to form conjuncts which had different forms and necessitated separate sorts. This proved to be a hindrance as the total number of sorts was not only very large but also could not be fixed. Letters in their written forms could combine in multiple ways and providing for all such possibilities was not likely given the vast resources that would be required and the impracticability of such an undertaking. The solution then was to achieve a certain amount of standardization: the letterforms were required to conform to some sort of system for their width, the vowel signs that could be placed above, below, and on either side, had to be fixed to a standard width (see Fig. 2.2, opposite) and the conjunct forms were to be minimized to conform to some manageable proportion. Besides this, the overhangs created frail portions that could break easily and something had to be done to strengthen these parts. The solutions devised to tackle all these issues had a tremendous impact on the typography of Devanagari, as for a very long time, they constituted the standard printed form of the script which, given its proliferation, seeped into general practise and influenced the notions of what the correct forms were supposed to look like. It is surprising, given the problems above, that lithography was not utilized more often in multi-script settings where Devanagari and Latin were combined. Lithography was introduced in India in 1822 and it quickly became a popular method of producing books.1 The number of books produced by lithography in 19th century India is considerably large and reasons other than technology can be suggested to understand why the method is not so prominent in books on grammar, language and other multi-script texts. 1. Graham Shaw, ‘Calcutta: birthplace of the Indian lithographed book’, in Journal of the Printing Historical Society (1998) No. 27. p. 90


Figure 2.3 james r. ballantyne A grammar of the Mahratta language (1839) J. Hall, Edinburgh. 274 Ă— 208 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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The most probable reasons for lithography not being the dominant method of producing multi-script books in Devanagari and Latin could well be: firstly, that it was used by the English, who had introduced it to India, in an official capacity to print circulars and official material, and not mainly books, given the notionally more authoritative position of typographic printing already established in the West. Secondly, it was used by Indians who could run their own presses after the removal of restrictions on printing1 in 1835 (especially as it would have required much less capital2 than setting up a typographic press) to print books in their own script, focusing on a very different set of users, which ruled out multi-script work to a large extent. Lastly, it is also notable that the Persian/Arabic script, having a stronger tradition of calligraphy and hand-written documents, embraced the process of lithography more readily than Devanagari and lithography emerged as a viable production method for a large part of northern India where Persian/Arabic was used. James R. Ballantyne’s A grammar of the Mahratta language (1839) is a lithographed grammar in Modi script, and it also includes a bit of Devanagari. The author states in the preface of the work: With respect to the mechanical execution of the work — the lithographic press has been employed, because no fount of Mahratta Types was to be found in London. The lithographic amanuensis was directed to leave spaces for the Mahratta characters, which the author filled in with his own hand. Having had no instruction in the writing of the character, and little practice in the use of the lithographic ink (a pestilent compound of soap and lampblack) he trusts that due allowance will be made for such defects in his calligraphy as may strike the experienced eye.3 1. Graham Shaw, ‘Calcutta: birthplace of the Indian lithographed book’, in Journal of the Printing Historical Society (1998) No. 27. p. 89 2. See Graham Shaw, ‘Lithography v. letter-press in India Part II’ in South Asia Library Notes and Queries, Issue no. 30, 1994–95. p. 4: It was far simpler and quicker to master than typography; it was less cumbersome and more portable involving less equipment; and it was cheaper, appealing therefore to the amateur or small-scale operator in particular. 3. James R. Ballantyne, A grammar of the Mahratta language (1839) Preface: despite the fact that Charles Wilkins had managed to produce Modi types by then. See Fiona Ross, The printed Bengali character and its evolution (1999) and Fiona Ross and Graham Shaw, An unexpected legacy, and its contribution to early Indian typography (1987).


Figure 2.4 n.e. muthuswami Hindi sentence patterns, phrase patterns and vocabulary (1973) College Book House, Trivandrum. 274 Ă— 220 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London.


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It is not implausible that the existence and use of Devanagari types from an early period – certainly earlier than lithography – especially in the major printing establishments of both England and India, discouraged full-scale lithographic experiments with books dealing with multi-script settings. Remarkably, printing by the lithographic medium does not seem to have made any difference in the manner of the combination of the scripts, at least in the example cited here, which follows the rather print-like letter sizes and only intensifies the disparity of the tools used for the two scripts. The twentieth century developments in mechanization, on the other hand, continued to face the same problems in Devanagari setting as earlier, if anything, in a more intensified manner. Linotype’s inability to kern did not help the already compromised renderings of matras and conjunct forms (Fig. 2.2). It was clear that mechanization had its limits in as far as the correct composition of Devanagari script was concerned. There was a defined limit to the character set which needed to comply with the parameters of the machine (see Walter Tracy’s letter on the following pages, Figure 2.5). With hotmetal, the sizes in which the type could be manufactured were also an issue as smaller point sizes were liable to break easily. With the coming of photo-composition, many of these issues were resolved1. Positioning could be accomplished in a better fashion without the difficulties of physical boundaries (though still not in a precise manner) and type could be had in a range of sizes (see N. Balasubramaniam’s letter, Figure 2.6). The matras in filmsetting for Devanagari used the Latin accent centring routine and they were offset by calculation so as to fall on the right-hand vertical bar or kana in Devanagari letters. This resulted in matras that worked fine for some letters but not for letters with a different width. It was not until a method for software positioning in digital photocomposition was worked out by Mike Fellow and Fiona Ross, using the relative unit system, that precise positioning of the vowel signs in Devanagari was made possible.2 1. Walter Tracy’s letter to N. Balasubramaniam, 4 January 1973: This overlapping feature is one of the typographic advantages of the VIP system never available to us in the hot metal system. 2. Fiona Ross, personal communication with the author. Also see Fiona Ross The printed Bengali character and its evolution (1999) p. 189–192


Figure 2.5 Letter from Walter Tracy to N. Balasubramaniam, describing the parameters of the Linotype VIP machine for the number of characters. February 1972. 300 Ă— 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Figure 2.6 Letter from N. Balasubramaniam to H.B. Kansal, discussing the issues of the sizes of type feasible for Devanagari in hot-metal and film. October 1974 278 Ă— 200 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Figure 2.7 sheela verma A course in advanced Hindi (1997) Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. 215 Ă— 140 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: School of African and Asian Studies, London.


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With their limitations, hot-metal and later photo-composition gave a definite form to the multi-script typography of Devanagari and Latin. The page, even when printed under poor conditions (see, for instance, Fig. 2.4) could, unlike the earlier metal types, employ compatible sizes in both scripts. In the illustration, the Devanagari type is the height of the x-height of the Latin, which makes it seem even smaller – the extreme opposite to the hand-set page. The typography that this gave rise to presumed a condensed, tightly fitted type for Devanagari to be able to work with the Latin. Since the headline (shirorekha) in the Devanagari here does not join (Fig. 2.4), it gives the impression of blending it even further, as it almost assumes the alphabetical character of Latin. The typeface and the typesetting technology have been used so widely in Devanagari texts that today, with much more sophisticated tools of design and production, the joining headline in the script can very well seem an unfamiliar typographical experience and an obstacle to compatibility with the Latin script. A small detail of this nature, arising from the limitations of a particular technology, goes a long way in determining the readers’ familiarity with the printed texture of a script. dematerializing type

With the arrival of digital technologies, the problems of multi-script typography have taken a different turn. The fact that it is now possible to achieve all the details that work toward a correct representation of complex scripts like Devanagari notwithstanding, it is easier to find error-ridden typography now than before. The democratization of type-making and type-setting tools have also lead to a proliferation of sub-standard solutions. The advantages that digital type affords, have still not been exploited to their full extent in multi-script publications, and instead methods detrimental to general legibility are often adopted (as seen in the example of Fig. 2.7, opposite). OpenType fonts for Devanagari still face the problems arising from a vague idea of the typography1 of the script and how it is to respond to the typography of another, when combined in a text. 1. See, for instance, the OpenType typeface Raghu, illustrated in Language culture type (2001) ATypI, Graphis. p. 313


part 3

Realizing programmes

The notions of multi-script typography have often been driven by larger factors, outside the domain of craft and design application, directing not only the ideologies behind and approaches to combining scripts, but sometimes also shaping the minutest details, as will be discussed in the following pages. Many such factors that have consequence for layout and typography continue to be relevant in present discourses and necessitate an acknowledgement of the wider context in which typographers and type designers work. From editorial policies to publishing environments to ambitions of various bodies and organizations, type and typography respond to forces and demands that define their physical manifestation. governance and evangelization

The first uses of Indian vernaculars were, not surprisingly, for the express purpose of governance and political supremacy on the one hand, and of evangelization and Christian missionary activities on the other – the two not always working in tandem. The linguistic and typographic ambitions of the governmental bodies were frequently at cross purposes with those of the missionaries: the one using language and print to establish a hierarchical relationship of rulers and subjects1 often saw the other’s activities of mass distribution and localisation as potentially disruptive of political stability. 1. Expressed, infamously, in Nathanial B. Halhed’s A grammar of the Bengal language (1778) as ‘the cultivation of a right understanding and a medium of intercourse… between the Natives of Europe who are to rule, and the Inhabitants of India who are to obey’. See also Miles Ogborn’s Indian ink: script and print in the making of the English East India Company (2002) for a discussion of the political aspects of printing.


Figure 3.1 john gilchrist A grammar of the Hindoostanee language (1796) The Hindoostanee Press, Calcutta. 277 Ă— 218 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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The missionary presses printed works in Indian scripts in keeping with their objectives of spreading the gospel in local languages, hence situations requiring multi-script settings hardly arose. Many scripts were printed for the first time but books were mostly set entirely in one script. On the other hand, it was deemed useful to have a grasp of the vernacular in order to conduct the business of governance of the provinces, and many steps were taken to make material available in order to accomplish this. Scholarly interest in facilitating language-learning gave the impetus to grammars and expository books which introduced Devanagari and Latin multi-script settings. pedagogical shifts

Attitudes towards teaching of foreign languages have gone through various revisions and iterations and in the course of changing, have directed and informed the manner in which books for the purpose have been designed and typeset.1 The approach to using Devanagari in grammar books has also varied based on ideologies and perceptions current at a time, and from the focus of particular works: With the exception of Hadley, Lebedeff, and the anonymous Portuguese grammarian [of Grammática Indostana (1778)], no grammarian overlooked the topic of script. Two extreme viewpoints were present: On one hand, grammarians such as Ferguson and Shakespear strongly advocated teaching the Devanāgarī and Perso-Arabic scripts, respectively, while on the other hand, Gilchrist, Hadley, and others favored the use of the Roman script in the teaching of the language.2

The concern with scripts thus depicted a clear consequence for the typography of the grammar books, which would either be set in Latin only or in Devanagari and Latin combined, thus requiring a whole different set of typographic considerations. John Gilchrist, whose A grammar of the Hindoostanee language of 1796 (Fig. 3.1) was the first to introduce Devanagari characters in type, later took a different pedagogical position to the use of ‘oriental types’ and cites various reasons for it, not all of which are theoretically driven: 1. See Leslie Howsam et al. ‘What the Victorians learned: perspectives on nineteenthcentury schoolbooks’, Journal of Victorian Culture (2007) 2. Tej K. Bhatia, A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition (1987) E.J. Brill. p. 93


Figure 3.2 john gilchrist The oriental fabulist or polyglot translations‌ (1803) Hurkaru Office, Calcutta. 213 × 145 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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When we advert to the rude state of oriental type at this day, and to the great incorrectness from points dropping out, and letters often losing their heads or tails in the press, after the whole has been carefully adjusted from two or three revisals, we should almost prefer our own letters to all others, for the dissemination and easy acquirement of the Hindoostanee, among ourselves at least.1

The purpose-driven pedagogy of Gichrist’s grammars and language expositors – directed for the use of men ‘destined for medical, civil, military, or commercial departments in British India’2– clearly focussed on the teaching of language rather than the writing system, which he treated as a separate issue altogether. Thus the work inclined towards governmental or administrative use in this area concerned itself with transcriptions of Hindi or Hindustani and the initial brief inclusion of the syllabary does not constitute any form of multi-script typography. In fact, on the other extreme, a curious book (Fig. 3.2) produced under the direction of Gilchrist titled, The oriental fabulist or polyglot translations of Esop’s and other ancient fables… (1803) states: There are not wanting some very warm advocates, even among expert orientalists, for an exclusive adoption of the Roman letters in all Hindoostanee publications, intended expressly for beginners or for Military men and others, who wish to learn the languages of the East, rather as acquisitions subservient to the due execution of their duty, than as classic accomplishments for the improvement of their minds, as men or scholars. I shall candidly admit, that my own opinion, nearly coincides with the notions of the Gentlemen to whom I now allude; but as experience in these matters is the surest guide, I will not run the risk of a premature positive decision either way.3

This approach clearly steered the typographic output to a divergent course. But with the shifts of emphasis in the grammatical directions of enquiry, a different set of ideas emerged. It is inter1. John Gilchrist, The Hindee story teller or entertaining expositor of the Roman, Persian, and Nagari characters… (1806) The Hindoostanee Press. p. vi 2. John Gilchrist, The Hindee-Roman orthoepigraphical ultimatum… (1820) Kingbury, Parbury and Allen. p. iii 3. John Gilchrist, The oriental fabulist or polyglot translations of Esop’s and other ancient fables… (1803) Hurkaru Office. p. ix


Figure 3.3 joseph payne Lectures on the history of education (1892) Longmans, Green, and Co, London. 220 Ă— 124 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: Digitized by Microsoft. Available in public domain.


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esting to note the interaction of the content and its typographic expression. In the field of grammar books, typography was closely connected to the vagaries of specific demands that developed in conjunction with a growing awareness of newer issues: … By the end of the Gilchrist era, as the discussion of three scripts – Roman, Perso-Arabic and Devanagari – formed an integral part of Hindi grammar, a definite correlation emerged between the selection of a script and the treatment of phonetics per se. The grammars with Roman script placed least emphasis on Hindi phonetics (the point and manner of articulation, phonemic and phonetic status of sounds, correlation between letters and sounds, etc), whereas it was a major topic in the texts with Devanagari script.1

Multi-script typography developed not only on particular lines within the field but had also to respond to formal systems that were especially instigated to achieve specific ends. One such system was proposed by the philosopher John Locke in the early 1700s, in the context of learning foreign languages. This was a layout with interlinear translation (Fig 3.3), which was part of the reformed view of pedagogy at the time. Mostly, in the process of learning foreign languages, translations were not seen in a favourable light and were objected to on the basis that they provided undue help to the learner.2 Locke’s views were not extensively adopted at the time but they were taken up early in the nineteenth century by James Hamilton and popularized to a great extent. The ‘Hamiltonian system’ became synonymous with the format of interlinear translations, and some interesting consequences for polyglot translations and multi-script typography followed. The practice and its benefits were outlined by Hamilton in an 1829 tract titled The history, principles, practice, and results of the Hamiltonian system, which caused a controversy.3 That the system was popular enough to warrant an edition comprising Devanagari is not surprising when seen in the context of growing interest in oriental languages and literature at the time. 1. Tej K. Bhatia, A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition (1987) E.J. Brill. p. 93 2. See for instance the discussion in the context of schoolbooks in Leslie Howsam et al. ‘What the Victorians learned: perspectives on nineteenth-century schoolbooks’, Journal of Victorian Culture (2007) p. 266 3. See Ernest Blum, ‘The new old way of learning languages’, The American Scholar. 77.4, Autumn 2008.


Barker and eastwick The Baitál Pachísí or twenty five tales of a demon (1855) Stephen Austin, Hertford. 213 × 145 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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What is interesting here is the redefinition of the notions of typography as understood in book production. The typography that follows from the Hamiltonian system is closer to the forms of nontypographic material, i.e. lithographed books. It is an almost subversive use of type to create layouts which resemble, to an extent, the more free-flowing, organic pages that result from processes of day to day pedagogy (see for instance, the page from John Hawkesworth’s Key to some of the selected dialogues of Lucian 1829, illustrated in Christopher Stray’s essay Paper wraps stone: the beginnings of educational lithography, 2006). The Baitál Pachísí (1855), as the preface of that work implies, was the first in such a format for the Devanagari script. It is noteworthy that the interaction between the content itself, its form and its implementation gain a close connection with each other and give an early indication that considerations of a typographic nature are not solely the printer/compositor’s domain anymore: It is hoped that the present attempt to give the Hindustani representation of the Nagari characters will be found of great practical usefulness to the student. … One of the objects contemplated has been to present a translation moe (sic) free of errors than those which have previously appeared; and persons acquainted with the difficulties of Oriental printing will not fail to appreciate the care and skill which has been exhibited in the proper adjustment of the vowel-points in the Hindustani version,—a matter of no slight importance to the student. (The Baitál Pachísí, 1855. Preface, p.vii–viii)

Figure 3.4 Though it does not make for elegant typography in the traditional sense, The Baitál Pachísí of 1855 is certainly a tour de force and something of a typographic curiosity, coming from the printer-publisher Stephen Austin. The wholly functional approach to typographic arrangement necessitated by the system may not have been any improvement in multi-script typographical work but it is definitely a new form, generated from particular requirements, and presents problems that are very specific to it, like word-lengths in different scripts that need to be accommodated within a certain alignment (notice the white areas in the text opposite), and the directional fluctuation (introduced by the Arabic). It is an interesting example of how typography can be shaped by entirely new demands exploiting its technics and possibilities.


Figure 3.5 max müller (ed) The first book of the Hitopades´a (1864) Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, London. 244 × 152 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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This was not an isolated attempt in producing works of multiscript typography in the interlinear system of translation, and was followed by many others which interpret the form more and more typographically, i.e. with more restraint and in a more systematic, ordered fashion. The organic arrangement of the words of different scripts give way to a more traditional arrangement making a different set of demands on the readers. The typographic unit changes from the word to the line as a whole (Fig. 3.5). It is difficult to find out about the reception of these changes by the learners/readers or whether such considerations were taken into account in modifying the system. It would be interesting to investigate if the changes in the details and format were indeed driven, in some measure, by reader (or printer) conservatism or other factors.1 house style regulations

It is well known that the first Sanskrit book printed by the Oxford University Press was the The Sankyakáriká in 1837, translated and edited by H.T. Colebrooke and H.H. Wilson. It was printed under the auspices of the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, originating from the Royal Asiatic Society. The Fund was established in 1828, and in 1832 a set of regulations was published for 1. We have at least one published reader response to the Hamiltonian system of interlinear translation, of a more general nature: attesting to its popularity and appeal, however shortlived. Wilfred Whitten’s, A Londoner’s London (1903) p. 219–220: “… and there was another I like to remember. It gave me one of those fillips to learning that are so good, though they come to nothing. It was Souter’s, two or three doors from Shoe Lane. Souter’s existed mainly to deal in the Hamiltonian system of learning languages. You never heard of that dodge?” “I think not.” “Well, the idea was a little too simple. Hamilton, who, I believe, had a curious career, printed Greek, Latin, French, and German classics with interlinear translations. You read the French line and found beneath it, in smaller type, the literal English equivalent. And so you went on; no grammar to vex you, no dictionary needed, and no teacher. You began to read Cicero or Racine as if to the manner born. I remember the autumn evening when the idea glued me to Souter’s window. I forget how I raised the shillings, but soon afterwards I bought three little books—‘Æsop’s Fables’ in Latin, some French story or other, and a German Gospel of St. John—and carried them home to Brixton. That night I took all knowledge for my province. I remember that my mother reproved my father for laughing at me. In a week I was suffering from polyglot dyspepsia, and I am afraid I got nothing else from the Hamilton system.”


Figure 3.6 a.F. stenzler Kumรกra Sambhava (1838) Oriental Translation Fund, Berlin. 272 ร— 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Google books. Available in public domain.


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the works that would be issued in the future.1 The approach to the typography of Devanagari and Latin for the first Sanskrit book at the Oxford University Press partly derived from these regulations, and indeed set the tone for later works. The regulations themselves are very precise in their demands, to the extent of specifying many parameters of print and typography related decisions. Regulations for ‘Printing &c’2 run to about six pages and are given a fair deal of consideration. The most important ones, that have implications for the layout and typography, specify: XLII  In printing the original text of a work with the translation, the text shall be on the same page with the translation—the text at the top, and the translation immediately beneath. [The Roman letter may be varied to suit the type employed in the text.] XLIiI  Of the works printed for the FUND, there shall be (except under very peculiar circumstances) but two sizes, Quartos and Octavos: as a general rule, both are to be printed in the type called Pica. … XLV  For Works in Quarto, the Page shall be thirty-two pica ms wide, and contain in depth, exclusive of heading and signature, or catchword, Thirty-four Lines of text, with space lines between equal to one-third of a pica m. Care shall be taken that the Spaces between the words be so regulated, that there shall not be less, on an average, than Sixty-three printed letters in a Line. … XLviI  The choice of Type, for Notes and Quotations of Verses, in works printed for THE FUND, shall be left to the discretion of the printer.3

Accordingly, works issued by the Fund after 1832 followed these directions (Fig. 3.6), giving rise to a particular type of multi-script layout where the two scripts appeared on the same page, but as two distinct areas of text, often with a clear separation in the form of a rule. It is remarkable that before the regulations were put in place the works published – for instance the Raghuvansha of 1832 by A.F. Stenzler, whose later work is illustrated opposite – followed the old format where Devanagari text was presented as a separate entity and was followed by the Latin text in a different section of the book. The regulations evidently changed the manner in which the oriental 1. Regulations of the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland (1832) 2. Ibid. p.10 3. Ibid. p.11–12


Figure 3.7 An assortment of script reform proposals for Devanagari. The most remarkable feature of many of these proposals is the disregard for the possibility of a more harmonized typography with a sense of balance and gracefulness in dealing with the black and white of strokes and counters in the script. (Enlarged details at different scales) Source: Bapurao S. Naik Typography of Devanagari (1971) Volume 2


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scripts were dealt with, and favourably so1, and serve to highlight an interaction between different scripts. Noticeable, for instance, in Figure 3.7 are the very different ways and levels of articulation employed in Devanagari and Latin: there is no use of quotes in the Devanagari text here, whereas the Latin text employs them for attribution, the numbering follows the verses in the Sanskrit text while in the Latin it precedes the sentences. Issues of this nature must give rise to a heightened awareness of how the two scripts work and affect each other when combined. reforms and agendas

With the advent of hot-metal machinery and the mechanization of type, the major issues of Devanagari revolved around limitations imposed by the machines, as discussed in the previous chapter. A movement toward rationalizing and adapting the Devanagari script to the technology was initiated early in the twentieth century and by the 1950s, formally recognized by the government as a necessary step for which various script reform committees were formed. Although the reforms were concerned mainly with reducing the character set and rationalizing the alphasyllabic system of Devanagari, it is not surprising that the proposed changes, not all of which were incorporated, would go a long way in shaping the typography of the script. It is remarkable that most of the reforms focussed on letterforms and their variations and did not much concern themselves with the typography that they would give rise to. (See for instance the suggestions in Fig. 3.7 which show little or no awareness of, or concern for, larger typographic issues like page texture, harmonization of forms etc.) The more radical of the reform suggestions and proposals thus worked on a programme that to some extent separated the letterforms from the typography of the script and in that sense were not typographically driven, treating the smallest unit, that of individual 1. Robert Needham Cust’s Linguistic and oriental essays (1887) p. 11: “… by correct readings and good typography removing one-half of the horror, that surrounds the first attempt to be an Oriental scholar” 2. Described at length in Bapurao S. Naik’s Typography of Devanagari (1971) Volume 2. Directorate of Languages.


Figure 3.8 Report from the Linotype Bombay office on the proceedings of the meeting at the School of Printing, Bombay. October 1963. 260 Ă— 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


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letters, as an end in itself. On the other hand, the desire to preserve the traditional forms of letters played an important part in making decisions about the proposed changes in the script, giving rise to a debate on the connection, in the mechanized context, between letterforms and the technology used to produce them (Fig. 3.8). Much activity resulted from these considerations and it could be said that a greater awareness of both the technology of production and the nature of the script itself was derived (Fig. 3.9). The reforms went hand in hand with the notion of modernization and its concomitant agendas. Adrian Frutiger’s Devanagari for the Monotype Corporation derived from a multi-script programme, to devise a complementary face to his Univers family. This was an early attempt to create a matching Devanagari typeface for an existing Latin one – which could be thought of as a programme by itself. The approach in developing this typeface took a homogenizing and simplifying stance towards the letterforms and, on the whole, the writing system, in keeping with the ideas of modernization. The result could not be entirely satisfactory as, very much like some of the reform suggestions, it went too far with its concern for rationalizing shapes instead of devising a viable typography through a design for pragmatic, and not programmatic, functionality. An illustrated article in a 1973 issue of Printing World (Fig. 3.10) goes a step further in describing the befuddled relationship between Sanskrit and Greek leading to the somewhat questionable ‘conclusion that the functional and aesthetic rules which governed the design of Latin typefaces could also be applied to Devanagari…’.1 It is interesting to note that Frutiger’s Devanagari was, at first, turned down by Linotype2 as unsuitable for their machinery but after Monotype decided to produce it, it was considered necessary to develop something on the same lines in the anticipation of a need for modernized monolinear typefaces in Devanagari. Thus despite its shortcomings, the design sparked off a new direction for type and typography in Devanagari based on a very different logic. It is all the more interesting, as officially the design was never released, yet it can be found utilized in places, in modified forms. 1. Printing World. November 15, 1973. p. 399 2. Letter from Mike Parker to Arthur Walker, November 19, 1969. Reproduced in full in Part 4 ‘Feasibility economics’.


Figure 3.9 Note received from B.S. Naik about the establishment of Typographic Research Centre in Bombay. July 1969. 300 Ă— 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Figure 3.10 An article about Adrian Frutiger’s Devanagari in Printing World November 15, 1973. 274 × 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


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A present-day programmatic development in multi-script typography can be seen in the form of Devanagari typefaces designed as companions to popular Latin ones. Type foundries with an existing library of Latin designs can use extensions of the same formal principles to develop typefaces in different scripts that form a coherent and related whole when applied in different script-contexts. Multiscript typography thus acquires a newer form, where not only page-, line- or paragraph-level details but also the letterforms are required to be more harmoniously matched.1 The digital era has itself given impetus to particular approaches to typography which form a vast and interesting area of exploration that will need greater investigation than is allowed by the scope of this study, though certain points of interest can be mentioned here: it would be useful to analyse whether the computer as a tool, and as technology, has opened up more possibilities for the multi-script typography of Devanagari and Latin or whether it has promulgated a more standardized view of language and script, with regards especially to the still pertinent problem of input mechanisms, the ease of keyboarding Devanagari and its concomitant issues.

1. Although this development can be said to be mainly based in the field of branding, the typefaces developed thus are often also required to function in text settings and affect the notions of typography of multi-script compositions.


part 4

Feasibility economics

The resources readily available at any given time determine the possibilities and viability of business ventures and given the nature of type manufacture in its traditional form – it was a costly enterprise and an industrial setting – much of the production was controlled by economic circumstances. With greater investments came greater pressures which often lead to direct typographic consequences. The situation has been reversed with the proliferation of digital technology and both the possibility of creating typefaces at little or no cost and the ease of piracy have transformed the models under which printing, publishing and by implication type-design and typography used to function. Multi-script typography, till not too far back in time, would have required a considerable effort and financial backing to materialize, besides the fact that it would have catered to a very specific and perhaps small market. With the growth of communications technologies, multi-script typography has acquired a new relevance and it has become much easier to reach a wide clientele around the world. financial considerations

The earliest consideration that type-founding in Devanagari came up against was that of the character set. Unlike Latin, Devanagari required an indefinite number of sorts depending upon the content of the text and this was neither financially nor practically possible. The number of Devanagari characters was reduced to simplify and standardize the practice. Multi-script typography would have meant dealing with two different cases of type and given different genres and formats of books, was charged differently.


Figure 4.1 henry beadnell Guide to typography in two parts, literary and practical. Part II–Practical (1861) F. Bowering, London. 197 × 170 mm (Shown here at original size) Source: University of California. Digitized by Microsoft. Available in public domain.


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Henry Beadnell in his Guide to Typography (1859) describes some of the criteria that were current at the time: English Grammars, Spelling Books, and works of those descriptions, in Brevier or larger type, with space lines, to be paid 6d. per 1000; without space lines, 6¼d. If in two languages, or foreign language, with space lines, 6¼d. per 1000; without space lines, 6½d.1… Interlinear matter, on the plan of the Hamiltonian system, to be cast up at one and one-half the price of common matter; the actual number of lines of small type only being reckoned, In grammars, &c., where words and figures, not being a literal translation, are arranged between the lines, one-fourth more than common matter to be paid.2

There was clearly some incentive for ‘without space lines’ typography and the Hamiltonian manner of typographic layout costlier to execute in its original form, perhaps also part of the reason for its later modification (as in Fig. 3.5). The issue of character set remained pertinent all through the hot-metal era as well as the first generation photocomposition machines, and was described in a letter from Walter Tracy to N. Balasubramaniam dated 2 November 1973: The important thing, then, is the establishment of a list of characters to be made in light and bold which can safely be regarded as standard for Hindi and Marathi for all customers. I emphasize ‘standard’ because all prices and, indeed the manufacture itself can only be undertaken on the basis of standard procedures; customers cannot be allowed to vary the array of characters on the fonts, because this will mean the making of fresh master negative plates – an expensive and lengthy business.3

In terms of new developments in multi-script typography, the issues of the design of Devanagari type itself formed the turning point for combining Devanagari and Latin, and it can be observed that much of the decisions in this respect were driven by economic 1. Henry Beadnell, Guide to typography in two parts, literary and practical. Part II– Practical (1861) F. Bowering. p. 119 2. Ibid. p. 132 3. Letter from Walter Tracy to N. Balasubramaniam, 2 November, 1973. p. 2. Source: Linotype-Paul Archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Figure 4.2 A draft of Walter Tracy’s response to B.S. Naik, for a letter dated 30 September, 1964. 270 × 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


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factors. Alternative schemes in hot-metal, even if they could produce a typographically better result than what was then possible, were not easy to implement given the difficulty of getting a large enough part of the market to accept the changes (see for instance the response to the Vijapure scheme1, Fig. 4.2, opposite). Devanagari typefaces that were originally designed for newspaper setting for hot-metal technology, with considerations for space conservation and based on relatively condensed proportions of letterforms, were also used for book publishing and these continued being used for multi-script work in books for a while. The financial investments that changing from one technology to another would have involved, meant that many printing and publishing establishments, especially in India, continued the use of older machinery at the cost of typographic improvements. real-world typography

Manufacturing directions and decisions were based not only on the desire to facilitate better typography but also on the competition in the market and its implications. Linotype, with its focus on the newspaper market, concentrated on the issues of faster production and the speed of composition was a key factor. With the rise of modernist typography in Europe and the design principles of order, standardization and universality, approaches to multi-script typography changed in a significant manner. Typefaces in different scripts needed not only to be matched, but to be designed on recognizably similar formal principles to present a cohesive image of companies worldwide. In the light of the opening up of possibilities in potentially large markets, typography had to respond to the latest developments. See, for instance, Linotype's Director of Typeface Development, Mike Parker’s letter to Arthur Walker, reproduced in the following pages, discussing the need to respond to Monotype’s production of Adrian Frutiger’s Devanagari after their own initial rejection.

1. The Vijapure scheme, an experimental possibility suggested for the composition of Devanagari letterforms in hot-metal, is described in more detail in Bapurao S. Naik’s, Typography of Devanagari (1971) Volume 2.


Figure 4.3 Letter from Mike Parker to Arthue Walker discussing Frutiger’s Devanagari. November, 1969. 278 × 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Figure 4.4 A part of Walter Tracy’s letter to B.S. Naik, for a letter dated 12 October, 1964 discussing the time allocation for work on 'non-roman' projects. 260 × 210 mm (Shown here at 80% of original size) Source: Linotype-Paul archives, Department of Typography, University of Reading.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

73

Economics of production have had significant effects on the typography of the multi-script document, from the time of metal type when smaller types would have meant paper-saving1, to the time of paper shortages and rationing where type needed to be crammed in (see, for instance, Fig. 2.6, first paragraph). Financial reasons can be cited additionally as an explanation for the relatively smaller number of typefaces developed for Devanagari compared to the Latin in the hot-metal era. Despite the fact that the script was widely used in most parts of India, the decision to design new typefaces had to be justified on the basis of a strong enough demand for new designs. The design and production of a new typeface presented a considerable risk in terms of investment, as it was an expensive undertaking for the type foundries right up to photocomposition and the dawn of the digital era. It was partly also because with rapid changes in technology, proprietary designs were required to be adapted to the latest formats and consumed a greater part of the attention (a related issue is illustrated in Fig. 4.4), thus leaving much lesser time for the work on new typefaces in Devanagari especially given the requisite tolerances and quality-levels aimed at2. It is interesting to note that it was not type-design, or typography itself, that was the product the large multinational companies were selling in the hot-metal and photocomposition eras, but the equipment or machinery for the production, hence their concerns were limited by factors outside of purely typographic considerations.

1. See Graham Shaw, ‘Lithography v. letter-press in India Part II’ in South Asia Library Notes and Queries, Issue no. 30, 1994–95. p. 2: Lithography avoided many of the practical difficulties associated with letterpress, not least the tendency of the rather large early Indian typefaces to ‘devour’ too much printing paper. Witness the many years of painstaking effort by the professional type-founder John Lawson at Serampore to miniaturize founts in the wake of the disastrous printing-office fire of 1812. 2. Fiona Ross, personal communication with the author.


part 5

Towards a critical understanding

Multi-script typography in Devanagari and Latin involves an understanding of the typography of both the scripts, and the ‘typography’ of Devanagari has mostly remained a more or less implicit concept. A distinction will need to be made here in describing the notions of Typography per se – as a process with its own peculiar characteristics of standardization, idealization of letterforms (unlike casual handwriting), of mass production, and of a definitive approach to text – and the typography of a script, which has to do with its coming to terms with the nature of the process, and which takes its own course of development. More simply, the distinction can be understood in terms of the notion of typography and the practice of typography, which invariably intermingle and interact with each other and are certainly not mutually exclusive concepts, but the level of this interaction varies from one script to another, from one period to another and from one location to another. The evolution of typography both as a notion and as practice, derives from the nature of the process – taking apart and putting it back together is a fundamental insight typography affords into text. This segmental awareness is characteristic of the process independently of the scripts. From its craftsmanship origins to mechanization and industrialization and to the present democratization, typography as a notion demands equal contemplation as the practice which accompanies it. Multi-script typography can be examined in this light, from a theoretical and practical point of view: this is tantamount to arguing that the common referent in the typography of Devanagari and that of Latin is Typography itself – a process which has its own logic and its own set of demands that need addressing, and these have been addressed differently by the


default

adjusted

variations

का िक की कु कै कँ काँ

का �क क � कु कै कँ काँ

टा िव टी वु टै वँ वाँ

Vertical kana requiring space adjustment for different shapes

Matras requiring contextual width adjustment for different letters

Matras requiring contextual width adjustment for different letters Matras requiring contextual positional adjustment for different letters

Matras requiring contextual positional adjustment for different letters

Chandra-bindu requiring contextual positional adjustment for different letters

Chandra-bindu requiring contextual positional adjustment for different widths

48 pt

Figure 5.1 A sample of the adjustments required for the correct rendering of combinations in Devanagari, a basic minimum requirement for its typographical expression. Most of the defaults originate from limitations of older technologies – limitations that do not exist in digital type, but many of these are carried over as legacies.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

77

two scripts. In order to work towards an understanding of multiscript typography, it is also imperative to first understand what Devanagari typography implies. Historically, it is evident that much of the typographic character of Devanagari – as distinct from the older manuscript tradition1 – derived largely from an interaction with the typography of the Latin script: resulting in the primary division of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, the vertical text-block and the portrait-format book. The typographic means of structuring text were introduced mainly through Latin conventions, for instance, word spaces and punctuation. An interesting feature observable in many of the Devanagari manuscript texts is the discontinuous headline (a feature also of the metal-type era though that was a result of physical limitations). Could the formation of a continuous headline for word separation then be thought of as a typographic development? Especially in the sense that the interaction of typographical logic with writing practises could produce a notion that forms the typographical expression of Devanagari today? In the context of present-day requirements of multi-script settings, the typography of Devanagari needs to address the issues of structuring and articulating texts in ways that have little precedent or historical tradition within the script. To meaningfully tackle such problems, it should be possible to extract new ideas from an interaction between Devanagari and Latin. This is not a question of the straightforward implementation of the conventions of one script into another, but rather, it points to an examination of the more fundamental differences in textual practices of the scripts under consideration. To revert to the problem cited in the Introduction, the use of bibliography as a textual practice in Devanagari was found to be relatively uncommon. This could be understood on many different levels: the author-publisher relationship in the context of the print-culture and the notions of ‘authorized’ text, the traditions of documentation and attribution, the notion of the book as a material object and the factors defining its access and perishability etc. Placing the textual practice of bib1. Sample Devanagari manuscripts can be referred to on the British Library website: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/expfaith/jainmanus/index.html http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ramayana/accessible/pages3and4.html#content


spacing

�गितवादी���ता �गितवादी���ता 48 pt

ितवादी�व ितवादी�

Spacing out produces odd effects and will need a different approach to fixing the positioning of vowel signs and conjuncts.

Spacing based on letter counters and conjunctwidths which define the basic parameters.

72 pt

Figure 5.2 Top: The approach to spacing is a significant factor in the typography of Devanagari. Often the ambiguities of letterform combination give rise to smaller units within the same word, as in the first example above, where the base letter and the vowel sign form a unit, spaced more closely, thus giving rise to blocks of space between many of such letters. A more even approach to spacing, as in the second instance, leads to a balanced distribution of white space. The difficulty of letterspacing should be apparent from the bottom example: since the vowel signs and conjuncts have a particular width, letters cannot be spaced without displacing the right positioning of these above or beside the base characters.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

79

liography in this light could probably help in forming ideas about how certain typographical forms emerge or remain peripheral. It would, of course, require further investigation and analyses to come to a more definite understanding, but the problem helps to illustrate the changing contexts that typography is required to respond to. In the present situation, where the nature of text is continually transforming, the question of how to appropriately resolve the typography of articulated texts in Devanagari has become even more pertinent. It can be reasonably argued that typography carries with itself a standardizing impetus and, at least notionally, the capacity to refine aspects of a script and its text (even if the technology at that point in time does not allow such refinements). Although the standardization of Devanagari has reached a certain stage, there is still much scope for refinements in rendering, and to some extent, even in the understanding of the functioning of the script and its components. With the possibilities of OpenType, typographic fine-tuning in Devanagari has, perhaps for the first time, become practicable on a general level. The fundamental notions of typography, for both the Devanagari and Latin scripts, remain observably similar: legibility, even text-colour and page-texture, a balance and harmony between the black and the white that compose the text. With the idea of multi-script type families, an area of interesting possibilities has emerged, with a specific set of requirements. As for different scripts to harmonize within a shared set of formal ideas, it is a considerably challenging task when the variety of contexts and practices are taken into account. In this transformed scenario, it is hardly possible for any script to continue functioning in isolation as a totally independent system. A different set of criteria come to bear upon the design of typefaces in Devanagari and also upon its typographic expression, in a period of rapid globalization, and with the advent of digital technologies and the Internet, it remains to be seen how the growing interaction between scripts will be enriched with a diversity of perspectives and approaches. •••


Note on illustrations

The illustrations in this study are shown as far as possible at their original size or else are scaled down to 80 percent. It has not been possible, owing to many different restrictions, to present the images to a uniform desired quality. Regulations of formats and sizes that are obtainable from different libraries and the unpredictability of the duration required to obtain the same, presented an added difficulty. In some cases the fragility of the material, even that in the author’s possession, has been a deterrent especially in getting a clear impression for the purpose of illustration. Since most of the books illustrated here are old and in the public domain, it was found useful to utilize their microfilmed versions by Google and Microsoft for discussion purposes. Books were consulted in their published, hard-copy formats, where available, at St Bride Library, the library of School of African and Oriental Studies, or at The British Library, London, and relevant pages were then extracted from the microfilmed files. All other images were scanned by the author from the LinotypePaul archives of the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading.


Bibliography

The titles of books in some cases differ in their wording from one source to another; here the wording on the title-page of the consulted publication has been taken as the standard. Source, where not mentioned, is the author’s collection.

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lambert, H.M. Introduction to the Devanagari script: for students of Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali. Oxford University Press. London, 1953. xiv + 232 pp. losty, Jeremiah P. The art of the book in India. The British Library. London, 1982. 160 pp. The Nagari-Pracharini Sabha of Benaras: its achievements and aspirations. The NagariPracharini Sabha. Benaras, 1928. vi + 42 pp (6 pl). naik, Bapurao S. Typography of Devanagari. (3 volumes) Directorate of Languages. Mumbai, 1971. Volume 1: xxxii + p.1–324d + x. Volume 2: xvi + p.325–668. Volume 3: viii + 38 + 178 pp. (source: Fiona Ross, University of Reading) nakanishi, Akira. Writing systems of the world: alphabets, syllabaries, pictograms. Tuttle Publishing. Singapore, 1990. 128 pp. ogborn, Miles. Indian ink: script and print in the making of the English East India Company. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London, 2007. xxiv + 320 pp. (source: Fiona Ross, University of Reading) primrose, J.B. ‘The first press in India and its printers’, The Library: transactions of the Bibliographical Society. Fourth series, vol. xx, no.3, December 1939. Oxford University Press, 1939. 241–265 pp. (source: St Bride Printing Library) —. ‘A London printer’s visit to India in the seventeenth century’, The Library: transactions of the Bibliographical Society. Fourth series, vol. xx, no.1, June 1939. Oxford University Press, 1939. 100–104 pp. (source: St Bride Printing Library) priolkar, Anant Kakba. The printing press in India: its beginnings and early development. Marathi Samshodhana Mandala. Bombay, 1958. xx + 364 pp. proudfoot, Ian. ‘Lithography at the crossroads of the East’, Journal of the Printing Historical Society. No.27. Printing Historical Society, 1998. 113–131 pp. rastogi, Naresh Prasad. Origin of Brāhmī script: the beginning of alphabet in India. Chowkhambha Saraswatibhawan. Varanasi, 1980. xxiv + 176 pp. reed, Talbot Baines. A history of the old English letter founderies: with notes historical and bibliographical on the rise and progress of English typography. New edition revised and enlarged by A.F. Johnson. Faber and Faber Limited. London, 1952. [2] + xiv + 400 pp. reynolds, Daniel. A view of Hindi newspapers and their typefaces. Unpublished MA dissertation. Reading, 2008. 88 pp. (source: Department of Typography, University of Reading) rhodes, Dennis E. The spread of printing: eastern hemisphere, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Thailand. Routledge and Kegan Paul. London, 1969. 95 pp. (source: St Bride Library) rosenkilde, Volmer. ‘Printing at Tranquebar, 1712–1845’, The Library. Fifth Series, vol. iv, no.3, December 1949. The Oxford University Press. Oxford, 1949. 8 + 155–226 pp.


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steadman-jones, Richard. Colonialism and grammatical representation: John Gilchrist and the analysis of the ‘Hindustani’ language in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Philological Society, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Oxford, 2007. x + 286 pp. stray, Christopher. ‘Paper wraps stone: the beginnings of educational lithography’, Journal of the Printing Historical Society. New series, no.9, Spring 2009. Printing Historical Society, 2009. 13–29 pp. (source: Martin Andrews, University of Reading) —. ‘John Taylor and Locke’s classical system’, Paradigm. No.20, July 1996. The Textbook Colloquium, 1996. (http://faculty.ed.uiuc.edu/westbury/paradigm/stray.html) accessed on 8 August, 2011. taylor, Isaac. The alphabet: an account of the origin and development of letters (in two volumes). Kegan Paul, Trench and Co. London, 1883. Vol.1 xviii + 360 + 40 pp. Vol.2 xii + 400 pp. tiwari, Bholanath. Hindi bhasha ki lipi sanrachana.Sahitya Sahkar. Delhi, 1988. 292 pp. (source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London) tracy, Walter. Letters of Credit. Gordon Fraser. London, 1986. iv + 220 pp. —. The typographic scene. Gordon Fraser. London, 1988. 96 pp.

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works cited

Most works listed here are in the public domain and can also be accessed online.

*** Alphabeta Indica: id est Granthamicum seu Samscrdamico-Malabaricum Indostanum sive Vanarense Nagaricum vulgare et Talinganicum. Typis Sac. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide. Rome, 1791. 24 pp. Alphabetum Brammhanicum seu Indostanum Universitatis Kasí. Typis Sac. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide. Rome, 1771. xx + 152 pp. adam, Rev. M.T. A Hindee grammar. For the instruction of the young, in the form of easy questions and answers. Calcutta School Book Society. Calcutta, 1837. iv + 70 pp. Ballantyne, James R. A grammar of the Mahratta language: for the use of The East India College at Hayleybury. J. Hall (lithographer). Edinburgh, 1839. [4] + 52 pp. barker, W. Burckhardt. The baitál pachísí; or, twenty-five tales of a demon. E.B. Eastwick (ed). Stephen Austin. Hertford, 1855. xii + 374 pp. beadnell, Henry. Guide to typography, in two parts, literary and practical; or, the reader’s handbook and the compositor’s vade-mecum. F. Bowering. London, Volume 1, 1859 and Volume 2, 1861. Volume 1: x + 270 pp. Volume 2: xii + 272 pp. benfey, Theodore. A Sanskrit-English dictionary: with references to the best editions of Sanskrit authors and etymologies and comparisons of cognate words chiefly in Greek, Latin, Gothic and Anglo-Saxon. Longmans, Green and Co. London, 1866. xii + 1146 pp. bopp, Franz. Ausführliches Lehrgebäude der Sanskrita-Sprache. Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin, 1827. xviii + 360 pp. —. Ardschuna’s Reise zu Indra’s Himmel, nebst anderen Episoden des Maha-Bharata. Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. Berlin, 1824. xxviii + 80 + 122 pp. colebrook, Henry Thomas and wilson, Horace Hayman (tr). The Sánkhyakáriká or memorial verses on the Sánkhya philosophy by Ishwara Krishna. Oxford University Press (The Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland). Oxford, 1837. xiv + 194 + [2] + 48 +[6] pp.


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Essays by the students of the College of Fort William in Bengal. To which are added the theses pronounced at the public disputations in the oriental languages on the 6th February, 1802. The Honourable Company’s Press. Calcutta, 1802. xvi + 234 pp. gilchrist, John. A grammar of the Hindoostanee language: or part third of volume first, of a system of Hindoostanee philology. The Chronicle Press. Calcutta, 1796. vi + 336 pp. —. The Hindee-Roman orthoepigraphical ultimatum; or a systematic, discriminative view of oriental and occidental visible sounds, on fixed and practical principles for speedily acquiring the most accurate pronunciation of many oriental languages; exemplified in one hundred popular anecdotes, tales, jests, maxims, and proverbs of the Hindoostanee story teller. Black, Kingsbury, Parbury and Allen. London, 1820. [8]+clxvi+ 188 pp. —. The Hindee story teller, or entertaining expositor of the Roman, Persian and Nagree characters, simple and compound, in their application to the Hindoostanee language as a written and literary vehicle. The Hindoostanee Press. Calcutta, 1806. xlviii+64+ 50 pp. —. The oriental fabulist or polyglot translations of Esop’s and other ancient fables from the English language, into Hindoostanee, Persian, Arabic, Brij Bhakha, Bongla, and Sunkrit, in the Roman character. The Hurkaru Office. Calcutta, 1803. [4]+xlviii+ 316 pp. grierson, Sir George Abraham. Linguistic survey of India: Vol. IX, Indo-Aryan family, central group. Part I: specimens of western Hindi and Panjabi. Superintendent Goverment Printing, India. Calcutta, 1916. [2] + xiv + 824 pp. hamilton, James. The history, principles, practice and results of the Hamiltonian system. W.Aylott and Co. London, 1829. 72 pp. johnson, Francis (ed). Hitopadeśa: the Sanskrit text of the first book, or Mitra-Lábha; with a grammatical analysis alphabetically arranged. James Madden and Co. London, 1840. [2] + vi + 158 pp. johnson, Francis (ed). Hitopadeśa: the Sanskrit text; with a grammatical analysis alphabetically arranged. W.H. Allen and Co, Stephen Austin. London, Hertford, 1847. xviii + 132 + 212 + [28] + 6 + viii + 122 pp. macdonell, Arthur Anthony and keith, Arthur Berriedale (Hindi translation by Ram Kumar Rai). Vedic index of names and subjects. The Chowkhamba Vidyabhawan. Varanasi, 1962. 572 pp. (source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London) muthuswami, N.E. Hindi sentence patterns, phrase patterns and vocabulary. College Book House. Trivandrum, 1973. vi + 254 pp. (source: School of African and Oriental Studies, London) müller, Max (ed). The first book of the Hitopadeśa: containing the Sanskrit text with interlinear transliteration, grammatical analysis and English translation. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. London, 1864. xii + 96 pp. payne, Joseph. Lectures on the history of education: with a visit to German schools. Longmans, Green, and Co. London, 1892. vi + 314 + 24 pp.


Devanagari in multi-script typography

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acknowledgements

Fiona Ross, Gerry Leonidas, Nigel Roach, Michael Twyman, Martin Andrews Department of Typography, University of Reading St Bride Library, London School of African and Oriental Studies, London The British Library, London The Felix Trust, for making the course of this study possible.

Devanagari in multi-script typography  

A critical enquiry into the development of notions of multi-script typography, for the combination of Devanagari and Latin scripts

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