Shouldn't the aesthetics of a word's letterforms affect the connotation of what is denoted?

by phil on Sunday Dec 6, 2009 6:41 PM

My friend, who's one of the best hackers in the world, is a very logical-minded person. He's an atheist, doesn't believe in anything supernatural, and has a no-fuss, no-nonsense character. Which is why I was surprised when I suggested that people's personalities are shaped by their names. He agreed, "If you hear your name 10,000+ times in your life, the way it sounds and what it means are going to have a big impact on you."

Similarly, I believe the aesthetics of words, when written down, also contribute to how often those words are used and what connotations they have. For fun, I ranked the capital letterforms in Times New Roman in order of their beauty:

Of the good group, A strikes a great pose. Everything about its pinnacle shape says alpha (in an alpha-and-omega sense) and authority. M is also a top letterform, conjuring up magisterial. Its mirrored towers are similar to shapes that symbolize balance and justice in Tarot. G is a grand figure and it reminds me of the jawline and beard of a Lionhearted king. D is like a clean, balanced blade. O screams purity, Earth, and ideal forms. Z is like a laser zipping through space. H holds itself together in a sturdy shape. V is as good of a representation of sharpness as you can get.

The medium group starts with S, a decent, slick form. K is a sharp object striking a flat surface. T stands tall as a proud tower. Q gets points for being the quirkiest letterform. N shares a lot of the same qualities as "Z", but is a tad dull. X is so much an exemplar of expressive letterform that it often feels overplayed. R has a nice regal quality, like a courtier leaning on one leg, with his cape wrapped around his bent arm. C is a good, solid curve. And F, well at least it's not "E".

The last group is a rogues gallery of misshapen letters. Y is just not as cool as "V". P always looks ready to fall flat. What is E? Its two boxes stacked on top of each other are as boring as a factory. U is what, a cup? Cups are worthless. L is simple, but dull, as opposed to "O" which is simple, but ideal. W seems like a wanna-be "V" or like wings that never took off. I is thoughtless. B signifies an obese body or fat buttocks. And poor J is like an "I" with a dongle at the end of it. It looks ready to topple over.

Remember those large illustrated books that you read as a kid that had different animals associated with each letter? Perhaps this post comes from that same spirit.

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