Tag Archives: Chinese

Someone suggested that my Five Eyes Flag would work as a flag for the English language. While this isn’t quite right—any flag for the English language would have to include Ireland, probably South Africa, and arguably many other places (Belize, India, etc.)—it got me thinking what languages could use a flag of their own.

It would have to be a language (officially) spoken in more than one, but not more than a handful of countries. French, Spanish & Arabic are too widely spoken, and there are already a boatload of bad flags for the German language. So I decided to try designing a flag for the Chinese language.

Chinese Language Flag - radial

Chinese is the official language of five polities, symbols from whose flags appear on this flag, atop a color also taken from their flag. In order from left to right, they are Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, The Republic of China (a.k.a. Taiwan), and The People’s Republic of China (a.k.a. just China). The symbols are arranged in an arc that mirrors the geographic locations of the five in east Asia, from Singapore in the south, to Taiwan off the east coast of mainland China.

Also, note that I said polities and not countries: Macau and Hong Kong are technically not countries but Special Administrative Regions of China, and Taiwan is not widely recognized as a country. There’s lots to be offended about by this flag; not only the animosity between China and Taiwan but the fact, pointed out to me by a friend, that the flag of Taiwan is actually the flag of the KMT, the dominant political party there.

I hereby release this flag into the public domain so it may stoke the flames of many internet flame wars. Enjoy!

Orthographic Tourism

When visiting another country, the visual and typographic culture infects me. The types of lettering used, from stone names above hundred-year old buildings, to flashy billboard headlines, and the letter frequencies wildly diverging from English, conspire in my brain to generate a new typeface. Ljubljana and Breuckelen are both products of this process.

Part of the motivation for the varied destinations on this trip was to push this process in new directions. Even Greece, which I ended up skipping for various reasons, was chosen partly because they use yet another alphabet there. My typeface instigated by Chinese, Zenith, is little more than a gimmick, but it’s a good one. And then Turkey totally surprised me with a powerful, bold, high x-height, sans-serif face. Upon arriving in Hungary, I was suprised to find that the as-yet-untitled Turkish face fits here very well.

I’ll be digitizing these new faces when I get back.

Bulgaria, the first Cyrillic-using place that I’ve traveled, really threw me for a loop. After pages and pages of sketches, nothing has materialized yet, and it might never.

My fascination with Cyrillic is really a flip side of the East’s fascination with English, or even the West’s fascination with Chinese or Japanese tattoos. A different, mysterious set of symbols that can produce sounds in a person’s head, just like your alphabet can, is fascinating, at least until you learn it well enough for its operation to become unconscious.

Luckily there are more alphabets, and countries, to visit, and to learn.