Cultural Connectives

Published by Mark Batty Publisher, 'Cultural Connectives' presents Arabic from a fresh perspective and explains basic differences between the Arabic and Latin scripts through Mirsaal, a family of typefaces designed by the author.

The author Rana Abou Rjeily holds a BA in Graphic Design from Notre Dame University and an MA in Visual Communication from Central Saint Martins, London. She now works as a graphic and type designer and is interested in researching and developing the tradition of simplifying Arabic.

About the book

When it comes to learning and understanding Arabic, the letterforms can be daunting, but realizing the differences between the Arabic and Latin alphabets is necessary. Cultural Connectives presents Arabic from a fresh perspective by bridging Arabic and Latin scripts through Mirsaal, a family of typefaces I designed that brings the two scripts into typographic harmony, even in light of their differences. I have then applied Arabic rules of writing, grammar, and pronunciation to English as a way to introduce Arabic to non-native speakers.

As an introduction to written Arabic this book is invaluable; as a means to dissolve cultural barriers, this book utilizes two very different alphabets in the name of creating understanding on many levels.

  • Page Count: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher
  • Size: 7 x 9 inches
  • Format: Casebound w/dustjacket
  • Publication Date: February 2011
  • ISBN: 978-1-9356131-3-8

About the author

As a student at Central Saint Martins in London, Rana Abou Rjeily devised the font family Mirsaal, which comprises Arabic and Latin alphabets that work together in typographic harmony. Growing up in Lebanon speaking Arabic, French and English, she found Arabic, her first language, the hardest of the three to learn. In her design classes in London, her classmates were drawn to the calligraphic aesthetics of written Arabic, but they were not able to read the script; they just admired the forms.

Abou Rjeily decided to continue the established tradition of “simplifying” Arabic in order to make it more accessible to non-native speakers. Back in 1947, Lebanese architect and typographer Nasri Khattar created Unified Arabic, a thirty-two character detached alphabet that, according to Abou Rjeily “was meant to ease the learning and writing of the scripts by reducing the number of shapes letters could assume.”

In Cultural Connectives, Abou Rjeily presents Mirsaal, a contemporary take on Khattar’s and Boutros’s creation of detached Arabic scripts for the benefit of learning and being able to achieve typographic balance between the two alphabets. Relying on the fundamental aspects of both the Arabic and Latin alphabets, Abou Rjeily showcases the versatility of Mirsaal by making clear how different the two alphabets are and by how fusing elements of both she has designed two attractive and incredibly useful fonts.

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Mirsaal Typeface

Mirsaal Arabic is a simplified typeface that carries the characteristics of a sans-serif humanist Latin alphabet typeface and still respects the essence of the handwritten form.

The Arabic letterforms are inspired by the ‘naskh' style; one of the most legible and simplified cursive Arabic writings. Mirsaal conveys the cultural essence and conventions of Arabic script. While Arabic is always written in cursive, Mirsaal removes its joined nature in order to attain a harmonious coexistence with Latin.

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