Typography: Mongolian

Mongolian Script by Svenni Zimsen
Gorgeous. Like runes.

I never knew that Mongolian script was completely different from Chinese calligraphy. Based on geographic proximity, I figured that Mongolian script might have just evolved to be a marriage between the Russian Cyrillic alphabet and Chinese characters. Nope. Look at Korean and Japanese.

The Mongolian script has a long history. It was developed as an adaptation of the script of the Uyghurs, who were captured by the Mongols during a war against the Naimans around the 12th century CE. But it didn’t fit the Mongolian language: the spelling was ambiguous because Uyghur letters represented multiple sounds. In addition, the spelling fossilized while the sounds naturally evolved, thus separating the written and spoken language. Language reform during the 16th century CE alleviated the problem, and the resulting script is known as Mongolian:

Calligraphy202 in The Beauty Of Typography: Writing Systems And Calligraphy, Part 2

Mongolian is special for its vertical writing. The Uyghur script and its descendants—Mongolian, Oirat Clear, Manchu and Buryat—are the only vertical scripts written from left to right. This happened because the Uyghurs rotated their script (which was derived from Sogdian, a right-to-left script) 90° counter-clockwise to emulate Chinese writing, but without changing the relative orientation of the letters.

Calligraphy207 in The Beauty Of Typography: Writing Systems And Calligraphy, Part 2

Visit http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/06/22/the-beauty-of-typography-writing-systems-and-calligraphy-part-2/ for more info and typography inspiration. Gosh, I wish I was an awesome web designer.


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KT is an avid foodie/gamer/SFF reader with expertise in a variety of bizarre fields. Her love for technology, science, and internet media is only matched by her fondness for music, language and art. Karen is an aspiring writer with a meandering past. Her law and engineering books make wonderful counterweights to her fiction collections. She hopes to one day publish a novel, most likely in the young adult genre, but the future is an open book.

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