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First of all, italic doesn’t exactly mean oblique (a.k.a. slanted). Italics originate from a specific form of cursive handwriting, which usually implies obliqueness, but most importantly implies distinct letter forms (see, e.g., this answer). You cannot really have a semi-italic in that sense, since, e.g., you cannot have a one-and-a-half-storey a. But that ...


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The catchwords, in addition to having a decorative function, they have a practical origin as described in this answer. At the time of the manual typesetting, the characters were placed on a line, one by one and the other way around, following the order of reading. This tedious process forced to create new methods of composition to accelerate the process. ...


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