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Ligatures

10 March, 2011

* Ligatures: What are they? Where did they originate?

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In typography, a ligature happens when two or more graphemes are joined into a single glyph. (A grapheme is a primary unit/piece in any written language). Ligatures in most cases replace characters sharing common mechanisms and are part of contextual formed glyphs. Its origin is putting together letters in manuscripts. The earliest known ligatures are found in Sumerian cuneiform. Also, ligatures can be found in Germanic inscripts from the Migration Period in history. An example of a ligature would be the German ß, which is a long s sound or a double s. A wonderful example of the ligature can be used in the German word fußall (football/American soccer), and is pronounced “Foo-ss-bah-ll”. Other excellent examples of ligatures can be found in Latin, Old English, the Norwegian, the Danish, and Icelandic languages.

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