Thursday, January 15, 2009

English Language Typography Poster

English Language poster by Michael Ciancio

Are you a typography nut? If so, then you will surely understand the sentiments behind this poster.

Graphic designer Michael Ciancio spent some time in Europe before coming up with this design—conclusion, rather. This 24.5" x 37" silk screened poster is for sale at his website and makes a great gift for the ligature lover in yourself or a friend.

Do you speak or write another language? English has 26 characters, while Spanish has a few more. I guess at the extreme end of the spectrum is Chinese, which has hundreds of thousands of characters. How many characters are in some of the languages you know? Are there any cool ones you can share?


  1. I heard that Burmese has 33 letters... interesting thing is that the order of the letters don't matter much when it comes to the alphabet like it does in english.

    ...and going off-topic I found a difficulty chart for how hard different languages for a native english speaker is. Apparently Chinese is harder than Zulu and Lao!

    -Silvertide, aka Sterling...

    PS: You should tell BAAU about this blog, you filthy BAAU member!

  2. Whoa, that chart is really interesting. As a bilingual person, I can see both sides of the coin. If Chinese is hard for English-speakers, then doesn't that mean English is equally hard for Chinese people? What I do find interesting about that chart is that even though English is a Germanic language, it is more closely related to many Latin/romance languages than German.

    For me personally, I think the hardest part of English is the grammar. It seems like there's a hundred rules, but a thousand exceptions to the rules. I'm not sure if this perception is a result of English being a second language for me.

    And thanks to you, I have now posted this on BAAU. :)

  3. I think English is the bastard child of a Germanic and Latin/romance roots. syntax and grammar are closer to German but look at all the appropriated Latin-based words (I always identify them on bilingual spanish/english signs while riding on public transportation.)

    My one gripe, where's the umlaut u letter? -L

  4. I guess there are some characters that didn't make it to this poster... :(

  5. English was my second language too, but I must have learned it when I was incredibly little, since I was born in this country...

    ...the funny thing is that my english is ALOT better than my first language now. My vocabulary for the first language mostly stopped growing when I was little... so now for me, the hard part is playing catch-up with all the words I never learned. It's like the difference between a college graduate and a babbling toddler! D:

    Good point about language difficulty going both ways, it's all about the level of difference, huh?

  6. I face a very similar problem. With language, unlike sports or riding a bike, you lose it if you don't use it. My suggestion for catching up is to consistently do things that keep you thinking in the other language (ie, find people to chat with, books to read, etc).

  7. Yay, first comment I've made! :)

    From a linguistic background, no language is harder to learn intrinsically than any other, but there are languages that are pretty different. I've taken some simple chinese classes (enough to say such monumental things as "cha hen hao") and the hard part for me as a native English speaker was the tones, but not anything else. The writing was easier for me after taking Japanese for years - I was already pretty used to kanji - and the grammar was SO English-like that I didn't find that hard at all either. But the tones DID take some getting used to, and I think that tone-deaf people might have an especially hard time of it.

    I don't think it works in the back and forth trade that you suggested, sprya. :) I don't think Chinese being hard for English speakers automatically makes English hard for Chinese speakers. But who knows. :P

    Though seriously, I think telling yourself that a language is hard is what makes it hard. :)

  8. Haha, that's probably true! I can't say that either is "hard" because I'm (fairly) fluent in both already. In regards to the link Sterling provided, you're right in that none are intrinsically "harder" than any other one--they're just different.

    I think that learning the first second language might be more difficult than a third or fourth. Did you find the learning process of Japanese harder than Chinese?

    I'm teaching my boyfriend some Chinese right now... it's a lot of fun! :D