Hi all,

It’s September, are you ready for ATypI?

 

This year’s conference, held on September 14-18 here in Reykjavik, is themed around the letterform ð (eth, pronounced like “th” in English “Them”).

 

The origin of ð can be traced back to the 7th century, when Anglo-Saxons begin writing with the Latin alphabet and found they needed extra letters to fully represent the sounds of their language.

It was then incorporated into Norwegian and Icelandic, but by the year 1400, it fell out of use.

 

400 years later, having missed out on the evolution of letterforms associated with the printing revolution, the ð was revived in Icelandic in the insular form that had been used in the old Sagas and manuscripts of the past.

 

In a hunt for national identity, vitalized with romanticism, the argument was that ð was one of the few characteristics that were truly Icelandic, and that to be able to read the old literature Icelanders would need the ð in its original shape. This is why the ð looks so odd in modern typefaces, as its shape still resembles that of an insular d. Nevertheless, the ð has become the strongest factor in the visual perception of the Icelandic language, thus fulfilling its role as part of a national identity.

 

This is the story for most languages: additional letterforms added to the writing system become a defining characteristic of the language’s visual appearance.

 

To address this idea, as well to expand upon it, this years theme ‘eth’ represents the additional letters, characteristics, peculiarities, conversions and letterforms as identities.

 

 

ps. Wondering how to make an eth? Take a look here for keynote speaker Gunnlaugur SE Briem‘s take.

 

The ATypI Reykjavík logo was designed by Birna Geirfinnsdóttir, using the typeface ‘Frijky’ by Neelakash Kshetrimayum