Type: Retail typeface
Publisher: Tabular Type Foundry
Release year: 2021
Purchase links: I Love Typography
Équivoque is a monospaced Latin sans serif for display use. Its biggest feature is the unified diacritic shape. Équivoque is a French word for equivocal because I wanted to demonstrate its feature in the name.
People are serious about diacritics in Latin typefaces they make. Bad diacritics can disrupt reading experience, if not cause genuine confusion. At least that’s the mindset of what I consider a good Latin typeface designer (otherwise you are an ‘English’ type designer). However, we live in a world where people are totally fine with relaxed approaches and all of the diacritics shown here do not follow their norm. For the most part, they just need to exist where they should. This sentiment is echoed in How not to draw accents by David Jonathan Ross. Of course, it would apply mostly to display lettering and typography.
Équivoque is an idea of unified diacritics which can frankly work in any typeface (maybe not so much in text faces though), and the hardest part of its design process was the styling choice. After many iterations, I ultimately settled on a monospaced sans with a dense texture; something that hopefully matches the brutality of the effect of the diacritics.
Since the diacritics are all the same shape, I could reduce the character set significantly. A glyph in a font can contain multiple unicode values, a common use of which is for A to have both uppercase and lowercase values in an all-cap typeface. But there is no upper limit to the number of values, and I could sometimes undecuple-code a character (i.e. encode 11 times. What an underused gem of a word.)
The idea of unified diacritics may be fine in very short text, but would it work as a typeface? I think it does, but I consider it an open question; I would rather throw the question to the world than leave it un-asked. While I was making the typeface, I have met with a variety of comments from totally open to the idea to very conservative, often within the same language groups. But hey, if you are reading this typeface and gettig genuinely confused, you should notice that it’s playing with you (i.e. confusion is an intended fun).
Of course, the comprehension rate of the text using this typefac varies a lot by the reader’s knowledge, context, and language. We have German on the easy end which uses only dieresis (¨), and Vietnamese on the toughest end which has eight different marks, many of which stack. I tested Équivoque with Vietnamese type friends who gave me different opinions but one of them said the text was a lot more readable than it initially looked, and the number of marks should be still visible. In those cases, the diacritics do stack and indicate that there are two of them.
This typeface does not contain the traditional diacritic shapes. If you want them, there are countless other choices.