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Writing Around the World: Trends & Observations

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The Letterform Lecture series complements the Type West curriculum with presentations from luminaries in type, design, and research.

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As we observe writing systems globally, what common attributes are revealed? What stages have led us from early written forms to contemporary writing? Which key inventions have changed the course of writing? How many types of writing systems can we identify?

During this lecture, we will not only answer these questions, but also identify characteristics of writing you may have never thought about before.


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About Kamal Mansour

Since childhood, Kamal Mansour has been fascinated by languages and their interconnections. Eventually, this interest led him to embrace linguistics, the analytic study of human language. While studying computer science later on, Mansour devised a simple algorithm that emulated the shaping behavior of Arabic script. Little did he realize then that he would spend much of his later career working systematically through the intricacies of numerous scripts from around the globe. People sometimes ask Mansour whether he learns the various languages whose scripts he analyzes, not realizing that it would take several lifetimes to do so. To understand how a script functions, Mansour believes it certainly is helpful to understand how the written symbols represent the sounds of the language but that it isn’t necessary to learn to speak it. To him, the study of writing also reveals the varied ingenious ways humans have chosen to represent spoken language and that, in the process, it gives us an intriguing glimpse into the labyrinthian tunnels of the human mind.

Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Organizer Letterform Archive

Organizer of Writing Around the World: Trends & Observations

Based in San Francisco, Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community, with a collection of over 75,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design. The Archive hosts and presents a variety of events related to letterforms, including public lectures and workshops as part of its Type West education program.

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