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November 16, 2006



The Umrao Jaan examples aren't typefaces, they're lettering.

(But well done for avoiding the f-word!)


The "Fables" series of comic books has some excellent faux-exotic lettering, and I think its use of them is reasonable: it lets you know what language the characters are speaking. (In particular, there was a while where there was a lot of Arabic, and I think it would have been harder to follow what was going on if it hadn't been clear who was speaking which language when.)


Asterix does this too: the Gauls' and Romans' speech-bubbles are in a default comicbook lettering; the Goths' language is represented by black-letter; and Greek by taverna-style straight-line letters. The Egyptians speak in hieroglyphics.


Loved your post! Do (any of) you happen to know if/where these typefaces are downloadable? Thank you!


For Asterix typefaces see


I adore this kind of artform, actually. My favorite has to be from one non-Latin script to the next, or possibly pseudo-Latin in another script (I've seen this for Thai). I had a large collection of these sorts of letterings from pictures I've taken from around the world, but unfortunately, I lost them in a hard drive crash. My pride and joy were Hebrew and Georgian faux-Japanese that I saw in some different Sushi bars. If anybody here has images of these, I'd love to see them again.

sephia karta

I had always taken the title of the movie to be Umrao Jaan, but now, going by the devanagari, I see that it must be Umrav Jaan.


Thanks for the comments, everyone. I am thinking of starting an on-line collection of examples of this kind of exoticized lettering, where I can collect everyone's favorites.

Sephia, the letter combination -aav in Hindi is often pronounced -ao, as in "Umrao Jaan" and in the surname "Rao" among other places. I am not sure why - may be a vestigial spelling of some kind or just the fact that the "-v" letter is often pronounced "w".


The 'va' sound is a semi-vowel, often formed by the sandhi of 'u' and 'a'. The sandhi of 'a' and 'u' is close to the 'ao/av' sound. The spelling above is to suggest that the 'a' sound is longer.

(By 'a' and 'h', I actually mean the short "aah" and "ooh" sounds, which are transliterated as 'a' and 'u' in India, often leading ot a lot of confusion. My name sounds more like 'hurry' than 'harry' for one :-)


Excellent forum, added to favorites!
I just wanted to pass on a note to let you know what a great job you have done with this forum.Thanks!

where can I get to downlaod the typeface used in Umrao Jaan movie. plz reply its urgent

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