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WTF

Last week I was explaining ligatures to my typography class, another in a series of lessons that explain how typefaces contain many, many more characters than just letters (both upper- and lowercase), numbers, and the basic marks you see on a keyboard. (For instance, be glad your name does not include a macron.) I spoke about ligatures that come from visual issues, such as the combination of "fi" or "fl", as well as ligatures that were developed as a form of shorthand, such as the ampersand (from "et", the Latin word for "and") and the "at" sign (@, which is now ubiquitous). Now I guess I ought to tell them about this thread at Typophile, which suggests possible ligatures for WTF, LOL, RTFM, and more. WTF has some of the most developed ideas:

an italic, a roman

The whole exercise reminds me of an old letter from my friend Mark, in which he suggested punctuation marks indicating sarcasm, to help make it more obvious when written. His idea was to start with regular punctuation and cross it out:

sarcasm marks

If I do wind up getting my master's in typeface design, or if I someday happen to have a lot of extra time on my hands, it would be awesome to actually fine-tune those ideas an include a huge amount of innovative ligatures or punctuation marks in a typeface. Typography at its best, after all, is a means of facilitating communication, so it would seem to be my duty to make more subtle means available.

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