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Type research diary part 9: Revolution

One of the more design- related topics of the Egyptian revolution is of course the placards and signs that were carriad to the worldwide demonstrations.

While placards and slogans do usualy not rank that high on a designers' list of designed objects, a bit of exploration is warranted in the context of bi- lingual type. The more typical Arab demonstrator will carry a calligraphic placard with eleganty writ arabic proclaiming the slogan of the day. In Egypt, land of the quick and humourous tounge and a 40% illitracy rate, it may also take the shape of a poignant caricature which reflects the demonstrators opinion.

At any rate, the differnece between the quality of the Arabic slogans and the English is noticable: while the arabic is an elegant, humourous construction, the same hand that wrote it will usualy produce workable, but inelegant latin. An elegant placard pun is easily lost in translation. Favoured latin fonts, if any are used tend towards the sans- serif variety, with simple messages like LEEEAAAVE favoured over humourist constructions. This makes
sense from a marketing point of view, as the target audience is defintly more familiar with Arabic than Latin script. Politeness decrees that you communicate your message in simple, interesting terms, using a language understood by your counterpart.

These placards possibly demonstrate how people think, beyond wanting to topple the regime.
They are a combination of traditional type with modern opinion, bi- or even multilingal. This is a culture that wants to be recognised for what it is, takes pride in what it is doing. But it also wants to relay its message to the world and be understood by it, even invite it to participate in its evolution.


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