On the economy of English

Posted on 18 December 2007 in:

german-for-mind-the-gap update

I’ve often heard that German is a more economical language than English. I don’t quite know if this is always true, even though German does seem to have a quite a high number of longer words, even a few massive super-words, like Dampschifffahrtsgesellschaft. But never has the difference between English and German been more clear to me than on the Berlin subway.

When riders exit a subway car, an official announcement needs to be made, no matter in which country one finds oneself. In London, the safety message has become iconic:

Mind the gap

The same phenomenon cannot be attributed to the BVG, however. Long before a train pulls into the station, the driver must begin his eleven-word, 21-syllable cautionary advice:

Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante!

mind-the-gap-p22-underground-medium update

The text in the images above is set in P22 Underground Pro Medium, which should be very close to the type used in the London Underground. The new pro version of this family was developed by Paul Hunt. The “R=248 B=236 G=0” yellow seems to be the color that the BVG uses, at least on their website. The BVG’s signs, of course, use FF Transit.


FF Transit. Great design, but maybe better for Berlin than London?