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Monday, February 18, 2013


Life has a way of throwing things at you when you are pleasantly engaged in something that has captured your imagination, your mind and your time. The last couple of days have been a little rough. Nothing that has happened can be changed because you can't bring people back from the dead... well not without making Zombies and that's just a bigger mess to deal with than grief. So there is little that I can do besides distract myself. So I found a research project related to two topics that I enjoy, typography and language.

Altered alphabets have kinda been a thing in the art world for a while now. My friend Michelle is one of those people whose construction skills induce envy, the way she builds letters is so methodical in the foundation. But there is always so much whimsy in the execution. Somerset Studio features Exemplars in every issue. They are so much fun to look over. All those Summers I spent practicing my penmanship instilled a love of calligraphy, of letterform and structure. When I got into college I fell in love with fonts during my typography course all over again.

So it seems natural that I should explore the typography of the language that I am loving all over again. Umlauts and eszetts are integral parts of the written language. As I am researching, I am finding that I remember a lot of stuff, have mixed up even more and that there were things that I never knew because learning the language never involved learning the history of the written word. While I am glad that all of this information is out there for me to find on my own, I feel cheated out of part of the education that I paid for.

This particular passage from a blog called True Ancestor at more than makes up for the lack of learning then because it helps me to understand something about myself now.

"... But in German, you think with your Spirit. Ideas are not something that you assemble, they are something that you apprehend."

An American mindset insists that the Mind is a tool and that it is disconnected from the Spirit and the Soul. But most importantly, Americans disconnect the Mind from their emotions. There are a lot of times when I am translating Reim lyrics that I have to feel the meaning because there is not a great word for word match in English. Zärtlichkeit is one of those words. It means tenderness. But in the songs it doesn't just refer to a lightness of touch. Or tenderness of affection. Zärtlichkeit is that feeling that comes from thinking fondly on someone, those moments that thought or memory brings a face to mind and you feel all the feels that you felt within those events that made the memory in the first place. It is a gentleness of thought and feeling that borders on longing. Of course if you use a soft touch to stroke a furry animal that touch is also full of Zärtlichkeit. But that is not the only meaning.

There is no good single word for this in English. We use "tender thoughts" and a few extra sentences to explain it.

I think that very German tendency to think with my Spirit is what helped me learn the language in High School in the first place. And I think that is why I do fairly well with linguistics in general. It isn't just about the words but rather about the essence of those big conceptual words.

Then again, sometimes it is about the special characters. And that is where I am right now. I am distracting myself with the special characters of a language I love. The Umlauts and the Eszett. I need a thematic project that is not as large as the Hebrew alephbet but bigger than my own initials.

And I need something interesting and sufficiently geeky to blog about. How else are you guys going to keep your interest? Yeah... not that typography is especially interesting for all geeks. But hey....this is where the mind goes. So goes the blog.

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