Wednesday 22 January 2003

Fontopia

By an odd coincidence, on the same day that the new 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBook models were announced I received from the Dynalab Type Museum, a CD-ROM containing 100 Japanese TrueType fonts for Windows, fonts that I’d assumed would be the final nail in the coffin of my waning—though perhaps soon to be resurrected—Macintosh career.

I’ve held on to my old PowerPC 8500 in order to use a brush-style Japanese font that I found on a Macintosh WordPerfect installation CD. Windows 2000 only ships with full and half-width versions of the two Japanese fonts shown in the following illustration: MS Mincho (upper) and MS Gothic (lower). As you can see, they’re roughly equivalent to Times New Roman and Arial—and equally uninspiring.

Windows 2000 Japanese fonts, Mincho and Gothic

Which is not to say that Japanese language support under Windows 2000 isn’t adequate. It’s actually fine, roughly equivalent to the Macintosh Japanese Language Kit that I was using in 1992.

But it seemed crazy to keep a whole computer just to use a nice Japanese font once in a while. My friend Gerrit Fokkema has an 8500 he’s about to donate to a local school and it would be nice to give them two instead of one. So I ordered the font CD and, when I checked later, I realized that the UPS truck had pulled up at precisely the time that Steve Jobs was introducing the new PowerBooks.

The Windows fonts turned out to be pretty good, as this small sample may suggest:

Japanese fonts, Dynalab selection

I can’t write about fonts with any authority—Dean Allen is in charge of that department. (Dean’s Twenty Faces is a fascinating introduction to the joys of type.) And, just like those used in English or any other language, Japanese fonts can be incredibly expressive too. I’m looking forward to having fun with Japanese type on my PC (though I understand that Mac OS X ships with some cool Japanese typefaces).

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Comments

And of course, OS X reads Windows typefaces as well as Mac-native designs, so your new CD would not go wasted. . . .

Posted by AKMAdamtheSudsyChaplainoftheUniversityofBlogaria on 22 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

I love the way OS X handles Japanese Language Kits throughout the entire system. I run it at the office too, under Mac OS 9 and I notice a lot of inconsistency's accross applications (of which MSN Messenger is the most notorious), but under OS X not a single problem yet.

Now, I still only need to learn Japanese.

Posted by Kris on 23 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

Perhaps this isn't the place to ask but Kris's comment reminded me - do there exist now any good resources on the web for learning Japanese? watashi wa nihon go o benkyooshimashita nee, but I've forgotten most everything I learned!

Posted by john on 23 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

I didn't realize that OS X could read Windows fonts, AKMA. That's a powerful incentive to switch...

Kris, I have a feeling that seeing the Japanese Language support in OS X might be the one thing that pushes me over the brink. And I have to ask, how is it that you're using the JLK if you don't speak Japanese?

John, a Google search on Japanese language resources brings up a ton of useful-looking sites. At the top of the list is (Australian) Jim Breen's page -- he's the Melbourne academic responsible for the Edict Japanese-English dictionary project.

http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/japanese.html

He links to hundreds of Japan-related sites so that might be a good place to start.

Posted by Jonathon on 23 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

I have JLK installed because I'm interested in learning.

matane
Nj?

Posted by Kris on 23 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour