World Peace Through Type: Bridging Arabic and English

A new book uses typographic design to apply the rules of Arabic to English—and foster mutual understanding

culturalconnectives1.jpg
I'm obsessed with language, such a crucial key to both how we understand the world and how the world understands us. In today's political and media climate, we frequently encounter the Middle East in the course of our daily media diets, but these portrayals tend to be limited, one-note, and reductionist. Most of us know precious little about Arabic culture, with all its rich and layered multiplicity, and even less about its language. On the trails of last month's excellent Arabic Graffiti comes Cultural Connectives—a cross-cultural bridge by way of a typeface family designed by author Rana Abou Rjeily that brings the Arabic and Latin alphabets together and, in the process, fosters a new understanding of Arabic culture.

Both minimalist and illuminating, the book's stunning pages map the rules of Arabic writing, grammar, and pronunciation to English, using this typographic harmony as the vehicle for better understanding this ancient culture from a Western standpoint.

culturalconnectives4edit.jpg
culturalconnectives6.jpg
culturalconnectives7.jpg
culturalconnectives8.jpg
culturalconnectives11.jpg
culturalconnectives9.jpg
culturalconnectives13.jpg
culturalconnectives14.jpg

The book jacket unfolds into a beautiful poster of a timeless quote by Gibran Khalil Gibran, rendered in Arabic:

"We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words."

culturalconnectives3.jpg
culturalconnectives5.jpg
Beautifully designed and conceptually thoughtful, Cultural Connectives is another gem from my friends at Mark Batty Publisher, firmly planting them as one of the most ambitious, creative and culturally relevant independent publishers of our time.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Mark Batty Publisher

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Entertainment

Just In