Thailand: A Script in Flux


Writing Styles Change

Fashions in writing styles change, and currently, new forms of a more “modern” Thai script are being introduced into the culture.


The Thai writing system was introduced in 1283, by King Ramkamhaeng, in the Sukhothai era. The script has undergone very little change since its introduction—until now. It is fascinating to study, but fashions in writing styles change, and currently, new forms of a more “modern” Thai script are being introduced into the culture. That characteristic small circular terminal is beginning to be omitted, and new fonts created, changing the reading habits of Thais.

Highlighted are examples of the small circular terminals referred to as loops.


Many say the changes in fashion for fonts are just a natural progression; others criticize the movement, saying that this “modernization” of the Thai script is really just a “latinization” of the writing style and that all cultural authenticity is being erased.

Here are some interesting things to think about for both the loop- and loopless-headed fonts.

LOOPED


  • Connector.

    Highest Readability

    More traditional, and therefore more comfortable for the older generations.

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    Higher Stroke Density

    The more complex shapes give the characters a higher stroke density. This can make the font look muddled and less legible at smaller sizes.

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    Which Character is it?

    The loops help differentiate the characters, making them much more identifiable, and easier to read.

Example of the traditional looped font on one of my train tickets.

LOOPLESS


  • Connector.

    Freedom to Play!

    More modern, and the changes in style allow for more play, especially when used for branding or advertising. This gives designers more freedom.

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    Is it a Loss?

    Seen as “latinized” and as a loss of some of the cultural heritage that the more traditional font holds.

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    Line Height

    The symbols take up less vertical space on the page due to the lack of the loops.

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    Smaller Print

    Less detail means that it can work better in smaller sizes.

Example of a more modern font on a bag that used to contain some sort of jackfruit product.


Till next week, folks.
And remember, never stop enjoying life’s little things.


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