Sunday, 10 August 2008

Ogmograptis scribula

I don't know what to call it, but my first encounter with it was in the TV ad for Diamond Chopsticks. The restaurant, which advertised extensively on Sydney television throughout the 1980s, wrote its name in roman letters composed of several wedge-shaped strokes to represent Chinese-looking writing. It resembles cuneiform script far more than it does Chinese; nevertheless this now seems to be the global standard for Chinese restaurants and for anything attempting an east-Asian look. To the six-year-old me, the strange gulf between the Chinese people who appeared in the ad and the Chinoiserie of the font used was far more jarring and noticeable than the, in retrospect, more bizarre use of Offenbach's galop infernal as background music (the accompanying lyrics were "Diamond Chopsticks, 6-8-4-1-double-4! Diamond Chopsticks, try some you'll be back for more!").

When attempting a little more authenticity, however, it is wise to check one's sources. Unless you are Brighton's listing magazine XYZ, in which case you will end up printing this on your cover and carpet bombing every shop in town with evidence you failed Year 7 Japanese.

At a local charity shop a week or two ago I happened to find an LP of Fiddler on the Roof making extensive use of a bastardised Hebrew version of English. Not too surprising, I suppose, but to go on and use this font on The King and I seems to indicate a level of ignorance that - oh all right - frankly doesn't surprise me.

Let's not even mention the poster for Borat.