Home > 9. The Alphabet & Redefining Intelligence, L. Visionary Art > Letterform–Three Characteristics

Letterform–Three Characteristics

File:Ath (alphabet).png


did j get Ht?

Did you get that? The writing above is a sample of QuikScript, the latest version of the English alphabet invented by Kingsley Read, the important but unsung English calligrapher.

And the alphabet table given to the left is the Ath alphabet, invented by Wurdbender for a constructed language, Barohn, created by Morioka Hiroyuki.

Both of these constructed alphabets raise the important issue of letterform and which forms are best suited for writing a letter. Let’s look at some of the criteria:

1) Direction/Orientation. Look at what the letterform for “i” in the Ath alphabet. Writing this letterform from left to right, people would lift their pen in the direction of the writing itself, thus making it easier to begin writing the next letter. This means that (and here RT is inventing some terms), the letter is right-directed and in harmony with the flow of the text–and thus is much easier to write than a letter that left the hand moving to the left.

2) Shape/Contrast. What shapes are best for creating letters? The main criterion here seems to be contrasts in shape. Look at the letter for “é” in the Ath alphabet. This letterform shows strong contrast between the horizontal top stoke and bottom curved stroke, these strokes being linked by a energetic diagonal. These contrasts make the letter easy to identify and aesthetically pleasing to read. In RT’s book, that means the letterform has a superior shape.

3) Energy. Energy is the personal quality a writer brings to writing down the letter on paper. Does the particular letter written have balance and take advantage of the inherent strengths in the letterform? Does it echo the formation of other letters in the manuscript? Is the spacing between letters and words consistent? All of these things take energy to achieve. An easy-to-read (not to mention a beautiful) passage of writing cannot be penned by someone without the necessary experience and verve.


There is more, surely, to know about the characteristics of letterform, and RT will be updating his readers on new discoveries in the evaluation of letterform, with the goal of identifying the easiest and most beautiful letters for writing Engish.   RT


Ath Alphabet: WikiCmns, Public Domain.


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  1. December 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm

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