Handwriting Fonts With Something to Say

Written by Typographica on June 1, 2005

Amy Papaelias’ MFA thesis project, Type Talk Fonts, combines type design and sociolinguistic theory. Using OpenType, “the fonts take on their own personalities and behaviors, creating a relationship between the formal elements of handwriting and the contextual variants of language.”

The most successful and amusing font is Sugar and Spice, which replaces “curse words with nicer alternatives, replicating the speech of a nine year old girl”.


Unfortunately Flash doesn’t support OpenType features, so some of the fonts’ stylistic ligatures aren’t shown in the demo.


  1. Hugo L. Casanova says:

    I love this project!

    I have worked a similar idea last year. Mine was extremely less elaborated since I did not create glyphs, and I did not make a Flash demo. I also did only one font. But I went further in the morals of playing with the content of people�s messages through OpenType technology. One can view and download my project here, if you are interested.

  2. crash cortez says:

    Papaelias is a genius! BRILLIANT!

  3. Karen says:

    Um, I typed in “fuck me” and it was replaced with “darn me”. It’s a very innocent 9-year-old girl.

  4. Hrant says:

    Amy actually presented a prototype/predecessor to this project at the type crit at TypeCon04. And yeah, it fucking rocks. Who says OpenType is limited to faking lettering/calligraphy?


  5. Clifton says:

    This is a really interesting and funny project, which raises a lot of fascinating questions. Is it even possible for handwriting to be type? Handwriting fonts are paradoxical at best: a central function of type is the regularization of writing, the creation of a fixed form of a letter. Handwriting fonts that try to mimic writing deny this part of type since real cursive forms of writing are always unique. Amy�s project suggests some post-typographic future where fonts are endlessly customizable (not only formally, like Beowolf, but linguistically) and unique to each user and iteration.


  6. Brian says:

    Does the demo not work in Firefox? I didn’t see the input boxes till I checked it out in IE.

  7. kris says:

    this would be perfect for censorship in “sensitive” areas. What a goshdarn good idea!

  8. Isaac B2 says:

    What an incredible statement about censorship — that’s an awesome idea! It hints at the ways that language can trick us, and reminds me of the Magritte painting that told us “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”

  9. Nick Shinn says:

    What’s the big deal?

  10. Since 1911, da Linotype brand has produced typefaces fo’ both da Arabic language ‘n da Arab world, know what I’m sayin’?

  11. Wow!

    I love arty stuff like this. Wonderful effort indeed.

  12. dyana says:

    If she had the time, I think it would be great if she could put all of her other ideas and theories online – the ones that got edited out, as will happen, for thesis projects – or at least had some of those “go away” posters for sale.

  13. Nick Shinn says:

    >What�s the big deal?

    Sorry, I missed the point at first.
    I must confess my eyes were clouded by a prejudice against crappy faux kid-scripts and artspeak.
    Inspiring work nonetheless.

  14. aaron says:

    this would be a better project if it directly confronted censorship and bias in language… there are so many examples of doublespeak in the media. you could change ‘soldier’ or ‘troops’ to ‘peacekeepers’ for example, or ‘war’ to ‘peacekeeping mission,’ or ‘evolution’ to ‘intelligent design,’ ‘patriot act’ to ‘fascist agenda,’ whatever, the list goes on…

    of course reverse engineering it could be fun too. changing those media-coded terms back to their true meaning, then using it to decipher foxnews.com..

  15. Hrant says:

    A brilliant idea as well!


  16. Robert says:

    Karen said, “Itďż˝s a very innocent 9-year-old girl.”

    I typed, “Screw you, arsehole.” She said, “Screw you, arsehole.” Not so innocent, perhaps.

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!