WEEKLY

WORDS MATTER
字在人心

我們這一代人,似乎都患上一個難以痊癒的通病:執筆忘字。由日常生活、工作乃至娛樂,人們倚仗鍵盤打字,大抵只能記住最初和最後的筆劃,其餘的筆劃也統統拋諸腦後。當大家認為文字有如一縷過眼雲煙,有兩位來自台灣的設計師卻留意到中文字的美學和意涵,並製作了一套名為「來字哪裡」的組字印章,為捍衛正體字而出一分力。
 
曾聽一些設計師說,中文字排版尤為困難,發揮空間亦相較其他文字低。的確,英文字看起來靈活多變,日文字圓滑平順,而中文字則帶有厚重、工整的感覺,難怪設計師會避之三舍。不過,「來字哪裡」的兩位創辦人──王蔓霖和王介盈卻不以為然。她們在一堂有關字型的選修課中,體會到正體中文字的博大精深,例如每個中文字能夠獨立存在,又可根據不同的部分構成各個字義。她們希望透過自己的畢業作品宣揚正體字之美,故想到可以用幾個筆劃組成一組印章,讓人自由拼湊筆劃,與文字互動。沒想到,她們的印章推出短短數日後,便已收到一百個訂單。蜂擁而至的訂單令人有點來不及反應,最後她們花了超過兩年時間研發及改良,變成最終版本的組字印章。這個設計不僅贏得台灣的「金點概念設計獎」,更在德國的「紅點設計大獎 」中獲最佳設計的殊榮,揚名國際。

古人提倡「永字八法」,即點、橫、豎、勾、仰橫、撇、斜撇、捺 ,兩位設計師則將這八個筆劃,濃縮成六個可以印出所有中文字的符號。雖然每套印章的形狀與大小一樣,但每個用家印出來的字體都不盡相同。手寫字之所以有溫度,是因為人們能以字跡體現心迹。而「來自哪裡」的印章也有一種溫度,皆因用家能按照自己的喜好旋轉印章,將其變成另一個筆劃,印出來的字體就會不一樣。物料方面,她們特別選用透明的亞加力物料,有手感之餘,亦方便用家能準確對位,創造屬於自己的字體。每個設計上的小心思,無非是為了更好地呈現文字的美感,教人再次欣賞認識中文字的迷人之處。

文字的演變看似必然,但同時亦代表某些文化正在悄然流逝。現時,全世界約有四千萬人使用正體字,比使用簡體字的人少三十三倍。文字沒有高低之分,不過古人的造字法蘊含着深層意義,倘若像簡體字一樣,「愛」少了中間的「心」,「親」字缺了「見」,那麼漢字本身的畫面感也會隨之褪去。面對正體字慢慢被侵蝕磨平,身在香港、澳門、台灣的我們唯有多看、多寫、多用,才能避免文字在時代的縫隙中溜走。

撰文:王以珞
照片:「來字哪裡」Facebook專頁
美術:王曉澄

Many people of the current generation are suffered from a common problem—that is, the character amnesia. From daily life, work to entertainment, we all rely heavily on the prolonged and extensive use of input methods, which make us forget how to write a complete character, except the first and the last strokes. When everyone else thinks the existence of words are as transient as a wisp of smoke, two Taiwanese designers have learned the beauty of Chinese characters and made a set of stamps called “Laizinali” (literally translates as “where is the origin of words?”), which are embossed with different strokes, so as to promote traditional Chinese characters.

Some designers say that Chinese typography is exceedingly difficult. Compared to other languages, such as the flexible English characters and the round Japanese characters, Chinese characters are rigid and neat, thus it is not difficult to understand why designers are afraid of Chinese characters to some extent. Yet, the founders of “Laizinali”, Wang Man-lin and Wang Chieh-ying, do not hold the same views. They both took an elective course about Chinese characters and were mesmerized by the structures of them, as all the characters can exist individually with concrete meanings. They hoped to promote the beauty of traditional Chinese characters, and therefore they made a set of stamps for their final year project, which allows people to chop their customized fonts freely. It turned out the stamps were surprisingly popular, and they received over a hundred orders within 3 days after the stamp sets were launched. Finally, they spent more than 2 years to improve the design before they started the business. This design did not only win the Taiwan's Golden Pin Design Award, but it also gained the “Best of the Best” award in Germany’s Red Dot Design Award.

With reference to the “Eight Principles of Yong”, meaning the eight common strokes in writing regular script, the two designers simplified the 8 strokes into 6 symbols. Although each set of stamps has the same shape and size, it allows users to create words with different styles. We love handwritten letters because we can feel the warmth when reading them, and we know that no words are identical. The characters created by the stamps of “Laizinali” exude a sense of warmth, too. Given that users can rotate the stamps and put the strokes together the way they want, this set of stamps can create very different words. In addition, the stamps are made with high quality clear solid acrylic so they are more convenient for users to get an accurate measurement and spacing with better textures. The two designers paid a lot of attention to the small details just to make sure each customized word will look its best, such that people will discover how intriguing Chinese characters can be.

Languages and characters change over time, but those changes also imply that our culture is losing its ground. Nowadays, there are around 40 million people who still use traditional Chinese characters, which is 33 times less than those who use simplified Chinese characters in daily life. The traditional Chinese characters originated in ancient times, and each of them contains certain kinds of meanings in it. If we abandon the use of traditional Chinese characters, we will forget some important meanings embedded in the characters one day. To prevent the extinction of traditional Chinese characters, we should all read more, write more, and use more.

Text: Elok Wong
Photo: Facebook page of “Laizinali”
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #228

WORDS MATTER

 

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