Skip to main content

Type Research Diary — Snippets of a paper

"At the point of these interviews, to paraphrase one interviewee, there is a deep split in the Arab persona. A part of it is the proud heir of an ancient culture, deeply rooted in religion and tradition. The other part of it is keenly aware of the occident and the lifestyle generally associated with it: freedom of expression, wealth and ease of life, sexual liberation and rationalism are terms, which while expressed differently, form a great part of the narrative about Europe and America."

"When setting type in Latin script, it is possible to set a language you do not know as the letters are mostly separate, standing on their own and do not take on specific forms depending on their position. Latin type includes ligatures, yet they are mostly used for ornamental purposes and handwriting. Arabic type consists of ligatures, interrupted by spaces after certain letters, both in and writing and in type. It is also written from right to left."

"The language has also adopted many terms from other languages, especially in the fields of technology and communications, incorporating the original term into Arabic grammar while keeping, to a great extent, its original meaning. The evolution is happening rapidly, almost daily, as the technologies that brought with them the necessity for this new vocabulary spread and become more affordable."

"Credibility begins with understanding. Demonstrating this understanding takes many forms: Logos are adapted, names are changed words take on unexpected connotations, not to mention shapes."

"The food brands again, are disregarded in favour of local brands due to pricing, not availability. Several imitation brands that quite replace the original in taste and function. They are not considered luxuries, rather the brand alternative to the cheaper priced generic product."

"Humour is also frequently used as a medium, such as an ad for Aiwa, a Mobinil mobile plan, in which all Egyptian stereotypes are assembled to sing about the virtues of the plan. Interestingly, while the characters were readily identified as Egyptian, the way the commercial was shot and scored was perceived to be western by my German interlocutors. My Arab interviewees however, found the same spot representative of the Arabs capacity to make fun of themselves. They were also of the opinion that this spot would appeal to the broadest audience, which it did. It was a cause of much mirth every time it was shown, and remains as such."

"An advertising campaign that was very well appreciated by an Egyptian audience, to the point of becoming a viral success, was that of the Egyptian TV channel Melody Tunes. The spots mix humour with music with local flavour, resulting in a self-confident, ammusing approach to advertising a channel of western pop music in the Middle East. The protagonists, familiar to the target audience, use songs by the Pussycat Dolls, 50 Cent and Shakira to influence everyday situations to their advantage. Their singing is off-tune and heavily accented, showing the viewer that the music and the channel are accessible to a broad audience, even one only slightly familiar with the content presented. The appreciation mentioned above extended to the audience I showed it to on this occasion. Melody Tunes' campaign was perceived to be a product of local culture and global integration at the same time, effectively inviting its audience to enjoy global pop."

"For MS Word, you need an Arabic Support Kit. For Adobe Indesign, a special ME extension is required to set Arabic propperly. Open- or Neooffice supprts Arabic, but a recent experience has shown me how faulty that support is. Pages is one of the few programmes to support Arabic with some consistency."

"An example for a well- executed parallel bilingual design may be that of, a German online media organisation, hosting pages Much of their content is presented in more than one script. Their pages were perceived to bewell-balanced and designed, even though they frequently mix more than one language on the same page. "

"// image: New Arabic Fonts //"


Popular posts from this blog

IGAF: Lying on Camera // Astounding Armaments

Nizar Qabbani wrote his epic poem "When Will They Announce the Death of Arabs" in 1994.

He was living in London at the time, far from his native Syria, watching the world he had grown up in and represented as a diplomat from afar. America had launched operation Desert Storm- a storm that lasts to this day- two years prior, and marked 1993 with the launch of 23 cruise missiles on Iraq. Qabbani will die of a heart attack in 1998.

In 18 stanzas, he explores the wishes and dreams he once carried, describes, however tribes and nations at war, that believe that secret services (like a cold, or a headache) are part of some heavenly order. He bemoans that the idea of the "Arab Nation" (possibly derived from the Pan-Arabist ideology that was crystallised during the Nasser years) has never come into being. He has been trying to draw a picture all his life, but his crayons have been taken away. He has watched wars- on TV, he has tried to imagine the idea of a peaceful Arab unio…

In Taheyya we Trust - How an Egyptian bellydancer found her posthumous stage in Berlin

“You should have winked at her,” Aida said dismissively, as if such a possibility had been imaginable for someone as timid as I was. Tahia Carioca was the most stunning and long-lived of the Arab world’s Eastern dancers (belly-dancers, as they are called today).
Edward Said, Farewell to Taheyya

My story with Taheyya begins in the summer of 2016, at Bulbuls Caféin Görlitzer Str. in Berlin. It ends two blocks down on Wiener Str 17. 

Bulbuls is a café and art space around my corner that I have grown to like to sit in and drink smoothies (1). He had commissiond us- a crew of Syrian and Egyptian artists, as well as myself, to paint the walls inside the café. El Tenneen (the Dragon) is the one who ended up drawing Sheikh Imam, with the help of Salam Alhassan (known as Salahef/ Turtles) and Sulafa Hijazis (whom we call El Hayya/The Snake’s) beamers’ illumination. The Sheikh sits happily in the place to this day and Crew El-Zoo was born.

Tenneen had the advantage of knowing immediately what he wa…

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow.