Calligraphy, Graphic Design


This project explores the concept of translation in languages as well as in visuals.

Chengyu (成语), literally meaning “set phrases,” is a distinctive feature in the Chinese language. They are a group of idiomatic expressions, usually four-character, that mostly derived from ancient literature and refer to mythology, historical events, or folk stories. Therefore, a lot of context and figurative significance lie behind the literal meaning of the four characters.

In this project, however, a very literal approach is taken in the translation. Each phrase is translated word for word into English, disregarding any grammar, as chengyu themselves are highly compact and do not follow the modern Chinese grammar. This takes the phrases completely out of context and creates abstraction in language for both English and Chinese speakers. The English words are calligraphed with brushes with strokes of Chinese calligraphy, in order to unite the two languages together visually.

Click on the image to enlarge.

calligraphy, designMark Zhu