“Our way. Or the highway.”

The Intrigue

First things first. I first became intrigued—or perhaps more accurately, obsessed—by highway signage in Japan during a business trip there a few years ago. This was during my Adobe years.

The Discovery

I attended ATypI All Over 2021, which took place from 2021-12-02 to 2021-12-04 as an online conference. One of the presentations that took place on the first day of the conference, Empirical Study of the Legibility of Arabic Highway Signs by Dr Shaima Elbardawil, brought back this memory of the variant form of 州. The presentation abstract describes the problem quite succinctly:

The Analysis

Noting errors or inconsistencies in typeface designs, particularly East Asian ones, is something that I have been doing for decades. Furthermore, as someone who has 30 years of experience developing East Asian fonts as a profession, I can confidently state that no typeface is without errors. This typeface is no exception, though it is not clear whether the inconsistencies that I discovered are unintended or due to inconsistencies in the actual highway signage that served as the basis for its glyphs. In any case, the following image shows some inconsistencies in the shapes of some components, with the first row representing what appears to be the intended component shape (because a larger number of glyphs exhibit the shape), and the second row representing an example of an outlier with a different shape, with the relevant areas highlighted:

The Conclusion

Exploring the glyphs of this font in greater detail is something that I highly recommend, and speaking of recommendations, I also recommend installing and using the OpenType/CFF version, because it includes glyphs for a few more kanji than the TrueType version. As far as I can tell, the OpenType/CFF version includes glyphs for the following 1,235 kanji, which you can Copy&Paste:

㐧一丁七万三上下不且世丘丙両並中串丸丹主丼久之九乱亅了予事二于云五井亘些亜亞亡交京亭亮人什仁仇今介仏仔仕他付仙仝代令以仮仲件企伊伍伏伐休会伝伯伴伶伺伽佃但位低住佐佑体何余作佳佼使侃侈侍供依価侶便係保信俣倉倫倶偉停側傘備僕億元兄先光児入全八公六共兵具内円冊再冗冠冨冷凌凡処凪凵凶凸凹出刀刃分切刊初判別利券則前剛副劇力加効勇動勢勺匂包化北匡匹区医十千升午半卓南単卜卦卯印危卵卸厄厘厚原厨去及友双反取叡口古句叩只可台叱史右叶号司各合吉吊吋同名吐向含吸吹吾呂呈呪呰味和咽哀品員哩唄唖唯問喜営嗣嘉嘘噛囚四回因団囲固国圏園土圧在圭地坂坐坦垂型垣埋城域埼堂報場堵堺塙塚塩壇士壬壮壱売夏夕外多夥大天太夫央夷奇奈奥女好如妃妹姉始姐委姫姶姻威娃娘嫁嬉子孔字孝孟孤学宀宇守安完宗官宙定宛宜宝客宣室宮害家宿寄密富審寸寺専射将尉小少尻尼尽尾居屈屋屑屯山岐岡岩岬岳岸峠峡島崎嶋川州巡工左巨己已巳巴巻巾市帆師常幌幕幡干平年幹幾庁広庄庇底庖店府度座庫庵延廻廿弌弍式弐弓弔引弘弛弧張弼当形彦彫役往径御徳心必忌志忘忙応念怜思怪恒恨恩恭恵悔悟悠患悦悪悶情惇惟愉意愛慮慰憩憶戎成我戒或戦戸房所手打払扱把折択抱抵抹押抽担拍拐拒持按挨挫挿捕捜据掘掛掠掬提揚握摂摩摸播撲支改故敦文斗料斡斤断新方旅日旦旧旨早旬旭旺昆明易星映春昧時暗暢暦曲更曽最月有朋朝木未末本札朱朴机杉杏村杓杞束杣来東杵杷松板析林枚果枝枢枯架柄柏柑柱柳柴柵査柾柿栃栄栓栗校株根桂案桐桓桧桶梅梓梗梧梨梯森椀椅椋植椎楊楽榎槌模横樫樽橋機次欧欲歌止正武歩歳歴死殉殊残比毘毛氏気水氷永氾汀汁汎汐汗汝江池汲汽沓沖没沢沫河油沺治沼沿況泉泊法泡波泣注泳洋洗洞津洲活流浅浜浦浪浬海涌涜涼淀淋淡淫淵清渇渋渥渦温測港湖湧湯湾湿源溢滑滝滞漠漣潘潟潤澗濁瀧瀬火灯灰灼炊炎点為烏焔煙煩熊熱燕燥燭爪片版牛牡牢牧物特犬状狐狙狛独狼猛猪猿玉王玩玲珂珠理琳琴琵琶瑚瑛瑞環瓜甘生用田由甲申男町画界畏畑畔留畦番異畿発登白百皆皿盃盆益盛盤目盲直相眉県矢知石研砥砦砲碇碓碕碗碧確磐磨磯礼社祇祈祉祐祖祝神禁禍福禾秋科秘租移程税稜稲稼稿穐穴究空突立竜竹竺笠第笹筑篠米粒粕粟粥精糸紀約紅納紘紙級紫紬細紳終組経絞絡絢絵続維綱網綾緑線編緯練縄縞縦置羅美群羽習老而耳聞肋肝肯肱育胃胆胞胡胴能脱腕腸膜臣臨自臼興舘舞般舶船良芋芥芦芭芯花芳芸芹苓苗苛若苦苫英茂茄茜茨茶茸草荒荘荷菅菊萌萎落葉葛葦葵蒲蓮蕃薪薬藤蘇蘭虎虐虚虜虫虹虻蛎蛙蟹血行街衛衣表袖袴袷裕補裡裸褐襖西覇見親角訂訃計託記訟訪設許訳証詞詠詩詫話誇誉誌認説読誰調談諏諒論諭謁謂謎謹谷豆豊貝貨販貫責貴賀資赤赦赫走赴起超越足距跡跨路踝車軌軍軒軟転軽較輪輸辺辻込辿迂迅迎近迦迩追逐逗通逝速逢連週運過道達違遠遺那邦邸郁郊郡部郷都酌配酒釈里重野金針釣釧鈿鉛銀銅鋭鋲鋸鋼鎖鎚長門開閏閑間関閤閲闇闍阪阿院陵陸険陽隠雄離雨雪雫雲零雷電需霊霜青静非面靴鞄鞍鞘鞠韮音韻頁須顆額願風食飯飲飴飼飽餅養餌館首香馬駄駅駒駿騒骨高髙鬱鬼魔魚鮎鯖鯨鯵鰐鰯鰹鱈鳥鳩鳴鴨鴫鵜鶴鷹鹿麿黄黒龍

About the Author

Dr Ken Lunde has worked for Apple as a Font Developer since 2021-08-02 (and was in the same role as a contractor from 2020-01-16 through 2021-07-30), is the author of CJKV Information Processing Second Edition (O’Reilly Media, 2009), and earned BA (1987), MA (1988), and PhD (1994) degrees in linguistics from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to working at Apple, he worked at Adobe for over twenty-eight years — from 1991-07-01 to 2019-10-18 — specializing in CJKV Type Development, meaning that he architected and developed fonts for East Asian typefaces, along with the standards and specifications on which they are based. He architected and developed the Adobe-branded “Source Han” (Source Han Sans, Source Han Serif, and Source Han Mono) and Google-branded “Noto CJK” (Noto Sans CJK and Noto Serif CJK) open source Pan-CJK typeface families that were released in 2014, 2017, and 2019, and published over 300 articles on Adobe’s now-static CJK Type Blog. Ken serves as the Unicode Consortium’s IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) Registrar, attends UTC and IRG meetings, participates in the Unicode Editorial Committee, became an individual Unicode Life Member in 2018, received the 2018 Unicode Bulldog Award, was a Unicode Technical Director from 2018 to 2020, became a Vice-Chair of the Emoji Subcommittee in 2019, published UTN #43 (Unihan Database Property “kStrange) in 2020, became the Chair of the CJK & Unihan Group in 2021, and published UTN #45 (Unihan Property History) in 2022. He and his wife, Hitomi, are proud owners of a His & Hers pair of acceleration-boosted 2018 LR Dual Motor AWD Tesla Model 3 EVs.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dr Ken Lunde

Dr Ken Lunde

Chair, Unicode® CJK & Unihan Group—Almaden Valley—San José—CA—USA—NW Hemisphere—Terra—Sol—Orion-Cygnus Arm—Milky Way—Local Group—Laniakea Supercluster