International Society of Typographic Designers

Editorial - Print - Strategy

Lost for Words illustrates the notion of loss through an examination of language. The interpretation of the brief relies on a scrutiny of language and meaning through the phenomenon of translation.


An English speaker can interpret scenarios from other cultural groups, but words may not exist within their vocabulary to describe them. Terms existing in other languages, from the profound to the light-hearted or utterly nonsensical have proved compelling to explore. For example, the German word Kummerspeck describing excess weight gained through emotional overeating. Found words have been constructed into sentences to directly illustrate the problematics and joy of translation.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language and 
its structure, analysing form, meaning and context. Linguistic determinism implies that people who speak different languages have different thought processes showing up in word variations from group to group.  Language is critical to communication, and dialects borrow words from one-another to perfectly capture moments or describe situations in single words.

The content of this book reflects this theory; lost through translation. Fascination with the phenomenon drove research into language connections and the development of content. The books structure is divided into sections determined by dialect continuums; connections of language families. Sections frame words from their dictionaries accompanied by meaning. A further selection are placed into the context of their languages thus illustrating a disparity in English translation.

My design objectives were to provide a dynamic fluidity to drive the readers engagement with the book. The pace of the spreads take the reader on a journey through informative content inter-dispersed with expressive, illustrative and playful typographic communication. By looking at difference, it is hoped that readers are entertained and inspired to share the knowledge and reflect on language personality; ultimately a thing which connects us all.

The typographic system of each section is determined by the visual interpretation of the language sounds. Grid and hierarchy have been kept simple. Reading ‘foreign’ languages distracts the mind through innate unfamiliarity. Therefore, a clean structure aims to formally guide the reader and put them at ease with the content.

Typeface, Orator Std was chosen because its style is neutral, similar to digital monotype, it’s uniform across all languages and conveys a consistent tone indicating parity between languages where little previously existed.

Red has been chosen as the primary colour
used because in basic colour terms in language culture black, brown, or red, are predictable by the number of colour terms the culture has. All cultures have terms for black and white and if a culture has three colour terms, the third is red. The book would most appropriately be found in gift shops or book stores with entertaining but insightful knowledge for its readers. 

 Type Specimen 

Lost for Words has a supporting booklet that specifically  explains every typographic decision detailed on a 1:1 scale.  The precision of placing all typographic elements and the information is shown through a systematic design language and this is relied on through the entirety of the book. It functions as a manual guide for one to recreate the Lost For Words book.