Wednesday, May 2, 2012

English–Thai Ambigrams

This time around I tried my hand at some multilingual ambigrams. (In the past I've worked solely with the English language.[1]) For the first batch (yes, that means there are more to come) I turned to Thai. Since Thai is written in a different alphabet, this was doubly challenging. I originally wanted a Thai Blackletter font, since Blackletters are conducive to ambigrams in English, but I wasn't satisfied with any of the ones that I found.[2] Eventually I settled for a Thai font called DSN Orchid.[3]

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This  first ambigram combines my name in English, Matthew, with its equivalent in Thai, แมทธิว (which is transliterated as Mæthṭhiw).[4] The alterations I made were generally minimalist, which was satisfying. I'm not completely happy with the way I included the letter h, though I'm not sure how to improve it.

The Thai equivalent of the name Ann is แอน (transliterated as 'Æn). I couldn't determine a translation for the Le[ah] part of Leann's name, so I went with เลอา (transliterated as Le'ā), which is the translation of Princess Leia's name from Star Wars.[5] Combining them gives เลแอน (transliterated as Le'æn). This one took a considerable amount of tweaking, so I suspect that the Thai reading is essentially illegible. But since I don't speak or read Thai, it makes little difference to me. To enhance readability, I created a color gradient to separate the tops of the letters from the bottoms.

I found three words for lily in Thai: ลิลลี่ (which is the name of the genus Lilium and is transliterated as lílálêe), กมล (which means "water-lily" or "lotus" and is transliterated as gàmon), and วิรงรอง (which is a lily flower and is transliterated as wírongrong).[6] I chose the last because it was the only one long enough to easily make into an ambigram with Lillian. Again I used a color gradient to improve readability.


[1] You can see my other sets of ambigrams here and here.

[2] If you're interested in Thai fonts, is a huge resource. It's mostly in Thai, though.

[3] I found it here, but it's zipped as a .rar file. To open it I used a program called 7-zip, which you can download for free here. Unfortunately there are about 50 fonts in the zipped file and you probably won't want them all.

[4] I determined this using Google Translate.

[5] Seeเลอา ออร์กานา โซโล.

[6] You can check transliterations of many (but not all) Thai words at

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