… is the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation. For over 50 years MISEREOR has been committed to fighting poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Their current fundraising campaign titled “Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe” (“Helping people help themselves”) includes a poster for a gastronomy training project in Vietnam. Similar to other posters from the series, the text set in Misereor’s corporate typeface FF Meta is processed to emulate the aesthetics of informal signpainting, complete with colored shading and a bouncing baseline.
What’s more interesting — and problematic — here is that the German words were decorated with random pseudo-diacritics, in order to convey a somehow “exotic” look, or to quote Jens Kutílek: “What Westerners think Vietnamese text looks like.” It is probably a well-intentioned attempt to add local flavor to the message, but the execution is rather awkward and superficial, and such “fauxification” always runs the risk of being understood as cultural stereotyping.
This means of typographic appropriation may have been inspired by its use in font marketing and type education: It’s tempting to show off an extensive character set by simply adding unrelated accents and other foreign characters to English or German words (I’m guilty of it myself). Luckily, most protagonists in the type scene have come to understand that this doesn’t do justice to the subject.
For those interested in proper Vietnamese typography, Donny Trương provides a good introduction, including an overview of the letters with diacritics that are actually used for marking tonal distinctions in this language.
Contributed by Font Bureau
Contributed by Florian Hardwig
Contributed by Stephen Coles
Contributed by Josh Finklea