What can Thai teach us about Latinisation?


Latinisation is a central discussion for type designers working on non-native scripts. How do we develop a deep enough understanding to design like a native? Can a designer really create an authentic typeface in a non-native script? In the worst cases Latinisation can amount to copy-pasting letter outlines between scripts, or borrowing elements that are somehow alien. But it’s often more subtle, relating to errors in letter construction or proportions, or misjudgments of local typographic idioms.

This talk will use examples from Southeast Asia to explore some of the issues we face in approaching new scripts, and the factors that contribute to authenticity or not. Conversely, we will also look at some Latin typefaces designed by non-natives, which can shed light on our own blind spots. 

In discussing these issues, we can begin to develop a deeper understanding of a script's 'ecology' or cultural environment, that can help us avoid Latin-centric thinking and design like a native.