Friday, December 18, 2009

Font Design - as a small study for my thesis

This is a font that I have designed for my Display Lettering class. I am calling it Curve.

Curve Medium
is a San Serif display font. One end of a stroke in each letter is curved thereby giving it its name.
I was trying to make a font with well-balanced proportions. Special attention was paid to vary the x-heights, the stem and the stroke widths of each letter to make it more legible and visually elegant. I wanted this font to be functional and have an amiable feel to it so that it seems welcoming and approachable. The curve in each letter was a subtle stylistic measure to make the San Serif less sharp and obtuse.

While this is not what Hybrid Masala Font is going to be like but going through the process of designing this font has taught me a lot about
- drawing letter forms by hand
- translating the sketches onto illustrator
- using fontlab to convert the illustrator eps and generating a font
- I have learnt about kerning, metrics and positioning and aligning letters in fontlab
- also I have begun to study composite characters and this directly relates to my thesis project as the hindi accents will be added to English letterforms as composite characters.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Final: Hybrid Masala Application

This project is a prototype for my Thesis which I will be completing next semester. I am making an experimental Hybrid script that combines English (roman) Consonants with Hindi (devnaagri) Vowels to create words. This script is useful for short words and phrases and therefor lends itself naturally for signage, branding and display lettering purposes.

In order to support this script I will create
1) a website that shares the rules and guidelines for this writing system -
2) A font that supports this system
3) A flash application that allows one to test the system, create samples online and post them to a ready database and community online, and also test the font.

My project is a prototype for the application.
Download it here -

This application allows a user to test the writing system and font
1) They enter their name
2) They enter the word they are trying to create in English or Hinglish (Hindi transliterated in roman letters).
3) Using the provided keyboard they can create the word or phrase
4) They can delete with the back arrow
5) Once they hit submit the words will become a part of a larger system with other samples like the sketch below -

Sunday, December 13, 2009

user scanrio - font in use

The HybridMasala font will be used using the glyph palette in softwares. As this is meant for short words, and phrases and nto for full sentences the glyph palette will be effective for a user who hasnt learnt the key mapping.

wireframe- online application to test writing system and font

wireframe - rules for system

1) Character set:
21 English Consonants
12 Hindi Vowel letters
12 Vowel accents

2) Combine the english consonants and hindi vowels to spell words
- Use consonants to create a base sound
- Add vowel accents to alter the sound

3) If the word begins with a vowel use a vowel letter

4) The short ‘a’ vowel sound is inherent in consonants, no need to add it unless the word begins with the vowel.

5) Exclude silent English consonants

6) Spell words exactly as you say them for complete phonetics

7) All words will have a bar on top

8) English consonants sit below the bar and NOT touch it.

9) Hindi vowel letters sit below the bar and NOT touch it.

10) Hindi vowel accents MUST touch the bar on top, except the ones that are applied below.

Preliminary lettering samples

Scope - character set

revised project concept statement

HYBRID MASALA - "mixed flavors"
An experimental writing system which combinesEnglish consonants and Hindi vowels. It is a way for communication designers to connect with an audience that speaks Hinglish, a mixture of Hindi and English.

HybridMasala.otf is one typeface that supports this writing system
- learn about system
- test it and make samples
- download the font
- peer to peer community for making up masala words

revised domain map

More Precedents

Xu Bing -
1) Book from the Sky

2) Book from the Ground

3) The New English Calligraphy, Square Calligraphy

Pranav Mistry - Third Eye

Klingon Language Institute

Malmal - store in Mumbai, Bandra. that uses a hybrid signage.

Alphabet Synthesis Machine

users and cohort

User Group - Designers

User Group - Hinglish speakers

feedback analysis for writing specimens

- Positive response
- creative, interesting, unusual and cool, very imaginative
- element of humor and play
- Surprisingly easy to read
- single words work much better
- once you got the rule it was as quick to read as hindi or english
- grabs your attention so you want to try and figure it out - like a game, like mirrored writing
- easy for words that they know - want to see unknown , or made up words
- has a strong potential for branding - not corporate but playful, fun and light hearted look

- can be used as a fun font, display font
- movie poster titles
- print
- online?

some things need to be clear in terms of the rules and system -
- Eliminating vowels and using hindi accents.
- can I remove silent letters as well?
- make it more pronouncable - more phonetic,
- handwriting needs to be clearer,
- some issues with letters that look similar in both languages

Thursday, November 12, 2009

data viz - Measuing the amount of Hinglish used

google chat conversation between two users

Orange colors = Hinglish words
Blue colors = English words

dark orange and blue - user 1
light orange and blue - user 2

size of circle - length of word = number of characters (kinda arbitrary)

Experimental Hinglish script

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

visual sentences - Timothy Ingen Housz in France

Elephant's Memory is an interesting project by Timothy Ingen Housz - a pictoral and iconic way of representing language.

this is interesting as letters and characters were derived as symbols from icons and pictures of cave drawings and such. And here Timothy is going back to idea of pictoral communication / pictograms. However these are more "contemporary" and grpahic in their approach.

Timothy's work is at Elephant's Memory site.

some examples-



interesting work - kind of related

I found some interesting work done by - Paul Haeberli on this site -

Paul sorted through 6000 Hiragana, Katagana and Kanji characters to locate the ones that look the most like the letters A-Z. This Kanji/Roman alphabet can be seen here.

attempts at new ways of writing - mixing hindi and English

This is an example I ran across on this site -

Rakesh Raju, who speaks both English and Hindi - devised a way of writing combigning both alphabets for each word to enable him to write faster -

Devnaagri vowels + English Consonants

I tried to utilize this system and user test it with simple examples - my attempts were as follows

1) English Lowercase consonants with devnaagri vowels

2) English Uppercase consonants with devnaagri vowels

3) Hindi Consonants with English vowels

What I learnt:

1) I thought it was an interesting combination and unique and something different to see -

1) Took me a very long time to write it - defeats the purpose of making a script for a language which is meant for quick, easy, friendly, casual usage.

2) English and Hindi work on very different systems. Figuring out rules for it would be complicated.
- hindi has 12 vowels, and 33 consonants, and any combination of 1, 2, ,3 or 4 of these can make up numerous letters.
- English has 26 fixed letters - with 5 vowels and 21 consonants

3) English has a lot of silent letters and some letters are pronounced differently when spoken.
Hindi is written exactly as it is spoken, it is completely phonetic.

Upon user testing feedback:
1) interesting to look at - specially the devnaagri accents on the english letters but will only work for single words, and not phrases or sentences

2) confusing - can only be understood by someone who speaks both hindi and english and would need a fixed rule about when to use what vowel and consonant

3) hard to read fast and can't understand at first glance.

4) better to use English to write Hinglish than to use this as it is an existing script. Where as with with we have to learn a new way of writing and what's the use as anyways you will have to learn Hindi and English before learning this.

5) hindi is written as it is spoken but english involves a different system, so hard to combine both. example - cat and censor - so this does seem a little pointless

1) as we can write hinglish anyways by using english alphabets - devising a new system to write this language does not help it or add value to it.

2) atleast with all english characters the word can be added to the English language if used enough, but with Devnaagri accents its becoming a third language - complicating communication.

700+ words adopted into the English DIctionary - Why? - some examples

1) The Oxford Dictionary makes it a point to include all new terms which are in use in the English language. The words are chosen by the Oxford English Dictionary’s Reading Programme, a huge project employing fifty readers. The findings of the Reading Programme are fed into a vast database called ‘Incomings.’

2) Indian words began trickling into English vocabulary with the establishment of trade relations between the East and West. Common words like ginger, mango and orange find their roots in the ancient Dravidian tongue, Tamil.

3) A large number of native words like pariah, sati, purdah, chintz, catamarans, mulligatawny, pukka and others became part of the English language during the three centuries of British rule in India.

4) Award winning Indian writers like Salman Rushdie, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Vikram Sheth, Arundhati Roy and others introduced more native terms into English.

5) Indian cuisine has achieved a high degree of popularity in England and along with it names of culinary items like curry, ghee and kebab have become familiar and widely used.

6) English speaking Indians, outnumbering the entire British population, form the third largest English speaking community. England now has several Indian migrants who have made native terms part of the English language.

The Oxford dictionary, with every edition, faithfully records all the Indian words absorbed into the English vocabulary. English has accepted words from Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarathi and Marathi. The following is an interesting list.

1. Philosophical and Spiritual terms
  • Aryan (Sanskrit) – a group of people who spoke the parent language of the Indo-European group of languages.
  • Chakra (Sanskrit) – center of spiritual energy in the human body, wheel or circle.
  • Dharma (Sanskrit) – moral law.
  • Guru (Sanskrit) – a teacher, guide or mentor.
  • Nirvana (Sanskrit) – a state of perfect happiness.
2. Social and Religious terms
  • Juggernaut (Hindi) – an overwhelming force that crushes everything in its path.
  • Pariah (Tamil) - social outcast.
  • Sati (Hindi) – the former Hindu practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
  • Pundit (Hindi) – a learned person.
  • Purdah (Urdu) – a curtain or screen used for purposes of sex segregation.
3. Terms of Fashion
  • Bandana (Hindi) – a large, handkerchief brightly coloured.
  • Bindi (Hindi) – a dot marked on the forehead by Hindu wives.
  • Bangle (Hindi) – a rigid bracelet or anklet.
  • Dhoti (Hindi) – a loincloth worn by Hindu men in India.
  • Jodhpurs (Rajasthani) – long riding breeches.
4. Culinary Terms

  • Curry (Tamil) – a spicy dish.
  • Basmati (Hindi) – a type of rice.
  • Ghee (Hindi) – clarified butter.
  • Kebab (Urdu) – roasted meat.
  • Chutney (Hindi) – a side dish for food.
5. Others
  • Bungalow (Bengali) – a small house.
  • Loot (Hindi) – stolen goods.
  • Chit (Marathi) – a note or letter.
  • Catamaran (Tamil) – a raft made of wood.
  • Cheetah (Sanskrit) – long legged, African or South West Asian wild cat that can run at tremendous speed.

Hinglish in Chatrooms