Presentation details
Typographic bilingualism: a framework for the co-existence of Chinese and English texts

Keith Chi-hang Tam

Sunday 16 September | 13:15 – 14:05
Location: Dance Studio Room 225

Presentation | Theme: Cultures | Duration: 50 minutes

If we accept typography as a ‘meta-language’ that endows written language with visual and cultural meanings that extend beyond the literal, then bilingual typography presents a set of rather complex relationships. Not only does a second language introduce another set of conventions, it also introduces a distinct set of connotations as well as aesthetic values. This presentation will attempt to create a framework for describing and analyzing the typographic design of bilingual texts through an investigation on the influence of content, visual attributes and spatial organization on perception and comprehension. Hong Kong will be used as a case study, where Chinese and English are both official languages and frequently co-exist in parallel or are embedded into each other. Size relationships, visual attributes, relative positioning, articulation, order in sequence, use of colour, etc. are important decisions that a typographic designer has to make when designing with two languages. The context of use, intended audience, respect for the cultural traditions and customs, language conventions, and the anticipated perception of status, authority and formality will dictate how these design decisions are made.

Speaker details

Keith Chi-hang Tam Assistant Professor School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University | Hong Kong

Keith Tam is a typographer, type designer and design educator with a multicultural perspective. Keith is currently Assistant Professor and Visual Communication Discipline Leader at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Keith’s pedagogy and research focus on typography, with particular interest in text typography, typographic structures, complex information and bilingual issues. In 2005, Keith co-founded Type Initiative, a type foundry and design collective, and is the designer of Arrival, a legible typeface for directional signing. Keith is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, Canada and the MA Typeface Design course at the University of Reading, UK.

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