Monday, October 19, 2009

Preserving a Language

Recently @Issue posted an article (Designing A Font To Preserve A Vanishing Language) about Juliet Shen who is designing a font to preserve the language of the Native American Lushootseed tribe. It's really amazing to see the impact design and typography can make on culture.

What was amazing about Shen was that she took their alphabet/sounds (which were being represented by a mash-up of Times Roman and the International Phonetic Alphabet, work done by Thom Hess) and created a typeface for it.

From the article:
Shen recalls, "At the first meeting, one of the oldest of the language teachers said, ‘This is a graceful language, but it doesn’t look that way.’ The sound of the language speaks of the physical environment that the tribe has inhabited – like water washing ashore, wind moving through the trees. My internal design brief was to get rid of an ‘adapted’ look and make it appear as if it has always been.”

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