The Spoken Word
in Typography

This master’s thesis project examines the possibilities of visualizing non-verbal aspects of spoken language in written and printed form.

“The pronunciation of even the smallest word represents an infinite number of muscular movements that could be identifed and put into graphic form only with great difficulty.”
— Ferdinand de Saussure

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The opening part deals with chosen semiotic and linguistic theories and their relationship to spoken and written language. Afterwards practical examples from the field of concrete poetry and word-sound compositions are analyzed. On the basis of this inquiry, it is possible to point out essential differences between spoken and written language and address these issues visually. 

The practical part approaches the question of how the invisible concepts related to our speech can be depicted, by experimenting with various typographical and letterform adjustments. Conducted experiments reflect the knowledge gained through the theoretical part, providing a fertile platform for a discussion. The final outcome of this research are posters, that were created using the most suitable voice-evoking techniques.

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Year: 2013
Master Thesis at The Basel School of Design
Master of Arts in Visual Communication and Iconic Research 
Mentors: Prof. Michael Renner, Paloma López Grüninger, PhD, Jiri Oplatek

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland / FHNW
Academy of Art and Design
Visual Communication Institute
Vogelsangstrasse 15
4058 Basel – CH

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