The Pronunciation of European Typefaces

So you’re an expert in typography? But do you pronounce Frutiger’s typeface Univers like the English word “universe”? Then you got it wrong. Here are some popular European typefaces and their proper pronunciation in German, French and Italian.

Eurostile:

Univers:

Neue Helvetica:

Frutiger:

Futura:

Akzidenz Grotesk:

Bauhaus:

Bodoni:

Fleischmann:

Officina:

Kabel:

Neue Haas Grotesk:

Palatino:

Peignot:

Graublau Sans:

Plantin:

Trinité:

Zapfino:

23 Comments

  1. Bert Vanderveen 2013/08/01 at 6:42 PM #

    Trinité’s i’s ought to be a tad longer and rounder, as it is a Dutch typeface and Dutchmen pronounce i either as very short vowel or a longer diphtong-ish one (much like ‘eat’ in English).

  2. Martin Thiemann 2013/08/01 at 7:38 PM #

    Vielen Dank für den Beitrag, ganz groß! Meine Studenten werden es lieben, wir haben schon öfter über »Üniver« diskutiert! :)

  3. Mathew 2013/08/01 at 9:29 PM #

    Neue Haas Grotesk might not be the best looking font, but it’s certainly the best sounding font!

  4. Kilian 2013/08/01 at 11:21 PM #

    Jetzt bin ich doch ein mit allen Wassern gewaschener Typograph, aber Eurostyles Aussprache war mir neu. Liegt vielleicht daran, dass ich die Schrift grässlich finde und mich daher nie für ihren Ursprung interessiert habe.

    (Ach ja und der Silbentrennungs-Algorithmus in diesem Feld ist Mist, der trennt “vielle-icht”. Ist das Rechtschreib-Deform-Deutsch oder auch heute noch falsch?)

  5. Adam 2013/08/02 at 12:26 AM #

    Enjoyed this very much. I’m currently learning German but never really thought to apply the language skills to the fonts I’m using every day. Guess I’m still stuck in my native English when it comes to graphic design work!

  6. Daniel Ullrich 2013/08/02 at 8:25 AM #

    Schöne Sammlung – gerne bei Gelegenheit erweitern!
    Kleine Korrektur: Bei der Graublau würde man das „Sans“ französisch aussprechen http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Fr-sans.ogg

  7. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/02 at 8:36 AM #

    >>>würde man das „Sans“ französisch aussprechen

    Meiner Erfahrung nach wird der Zusatz »Sans« trotz seiner französischen Herkunft im Kontext deutscher Typografie und deutscher Schriftnamen »eingedeutscht« benutzt. Ein Fremdwort behält nicht für alle Zeit seine ursprüngliche Aussprache, nur weil es irgendwann einmal fremd war.
    In gleicher Weise würde ich das Sans in Comic Sans wiederum englisch aussprechen. Es ist nunmal ein englischer Name. Ein Sprachmix innerhalb der Namen erscheint mir nicht sinnvoll.

  8. Florian 2013/08/04 at 11:34 AM #

    Mir ist es nie in den Sinn gekommen »Eurostile« italienisch auszusprechen. So klingt »E-Uro-Stile« schon so sympathisch das ich der Schrift mal eine Chance geben sollte. :D

  9. Alexander Hettich 2013/08/05 at 1:36 PM #

    Eurostile war für mich die Überraschung. Gerne würde ich auch den korrekten Klang von Gill Sans hören …

  10. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/05 at 2:10 PM #

    Ein englischer Muttersprachler und Typograf sagte mir:
    »Gill Säns« mit einem G wie im deutschen Galle, nicht mit dem typisch englischen »Dsch« wie in Germany.
    Kann ich aber nur so weitergeben ohne es wirklich belegen zu können.

  11. 1GR3 2013/08/09 at 3:37 PM #

    Now I wander how “the rest of the world” pronounce them :)

  12. Kathryn 2013/08/11 at 6:11 PM #

    It’s so great to hear what the names sound like, instead of me guessing how they might be pronounced through the filter of my own language. How did you post sound files to your blog? I’d like to on my wordpress blog but can’t figure out how.

  13. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/11 at 7:09 PM #

    @Kathryn: Check the WordPress plugin directory for “audio” or “mp3”. There are many free plugins available for this.

  14. Elzo Smid 2013/08/14 at 6:19 PM #

    I thought Adrian Frutiger was from the French speaking part of Switserland, so the pronounciation shouldn’t be as German sounding as here.

  15. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/14 at 6:33 PM #

    No, Frutiger is from Unterseen, where 90 % speak German.

  16. Elzo Smid 2013/08/14 at 6:52 PM #

    Thank you Ralf. I’m never to old to learn.

  17. Mike Mai 2013/08/15 at 1:33 AM #

    I love Eurostile! http://iloveeurostile.com

  18. Marco 2013/08/15 at 4:16 PM #

    I always have trouble with “Comic Sans” :(

  19. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/17 at 6:57 AM #

    >>>I always have trouble with “Comic Sans”

    The article only covers European fonts that don’t have English names.
    Comic Sans can just be pronounced like two English words.

  20. Bart 2013/08/18 at 4:42 AM #

    But it’s “wrong” to try to pronounce foreign words in a foreign accent when speaking English. A lot of times English doesn’t have the same pronunciation or your mouth just needs to perform a lot of gymnastics that sound completely unnatural when switching between languages. Words in every language are meant to flow together, not be chopped up by pronunciations from foreign languages. Maybe the way these words are adapted into English could have sounded closer to their original pronunciations, but it’s not wrong to pronounce them differently (even completely differently).

    I knew someone who insisted on calling croissants “cwassants” and he sounded silly both in English and French!

  21. Ralf Herrmann 2013/08/18 at 6:30 AM #

    >>But it’s “wrong” to try to pronounce foreign words in a foreign accent when speaking English.

    Just think about it the other way around: No one here in Europe would pronounce Times New Roman, iPod, Bank of America and so on as if they were German or French words. This would sound silly! They are English proper names, so they get an English pronunciation.
    “Croissants” has been in the English language for centuries (I guess), so it actually is an English word already. But those typeface names are not English words you use every day on the street. They are proper names. If English typeface names are pronounced in English everywhere on the world, it’s not silly to try to use the original pronunciation of names that originated in Germany, France or Italy.

  22. Elzo Smid 2013/08/18 at 9:18 AM #

    I agree with Ralf. You try to use the original pronounciation as close as possible. Just like you would with people’s names. In fact many font names are the name of the creator (Novarese, Zapf, Frutiger, etc.), first names of their beloved (Lucida, Caecilia, Joanna) or names of companies or institutions (Bauhaus, Bell, Quadraat).
    Once I heard a famous English speaking pianist say he liked chopin’. I had images of him riding hippy motorcycles and was very surprised. Only the next day I realised he meant to say Chopín, the composer.

  23. marshall 2013/09/06 at 6:25 PM #

    Regarding Bart’s argument on pronunciation across languages, I agree it’s not appropriate for English speakers to pronounce these proper names however they please, but some things are impractical and yes, don’t translate to the English language at all. For instance Eurostile should be pronouced Euro-steel rather than Euro-style in English, but the slight “ay”/”eh”/”uh” vowel sound at the end of the word is dropped because there are virtually no words in English with this inflection and to add it would break up the rhythm of spoken English, whereas those inflections are quite common in European languages. Of course we should pronounce Neue as “noiya” rather than “new” but to pronounce Helvetica as Hel-vay-tee-kah instead of Hel-veh-tih-kuh in English is silly – those long vowel sounds are unnatural in English and are due mostly to northern European accents. By the same account, it would be silly for Americans to expect Europeans to drop their local accents and pronounce “Dallas, Texas” with a southern drawl or “Yankees” with a New York accent.

 

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