Aravrit, the language of peace by Shany, Israel

Meet Aravrit: Brilliant new font created by designer Liron Lavi Turkenich is the new typography of peace!                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Typographic designer “Liron Lavi Turkenich” is the next big thing when it comes to creative peace solutions. The 32 year old promising designer created a special typographic font called “Aravrit”.

The meaning of the name “Aravrit” is a combination of both the Hebrew and Arabic language.

Liron managed to design a set of hybrid letters that allows both arabic and hebrew readers to understand the meaning of the same words presented to them.

So how does this cool new writing system work, exactly?

I interviewed Liron about the special script and here is what she had to say.

Q: Hi Liron, nice to meet you. Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

Liron: I am Liron Lavi Turkenich, 32, a font designer and researcher. I have a BA in Visual Communication from “Shenkar Institute” and an MA in font design from the “University of Reading” in England.

Q: Where did the amazing inspiration for combining both Hebrew and Arabic letters into a new writing system come from?

Liron: I was born and raised in “Haifa” which is a mixed Jewish and Arab city in Israel, yet I never learned Arabic. At one point, I noticed that I was looking at the three-sided signs in the city and in fact ignored Arabic. I looked at her like an ornament rather than a language that conveyed real content. In addition, I looked at three-sided road signs and saw that there was not too much reference to how the letters were on the sign. It bothered me and I looked for a way to create a project that would give the two languages the same place and respect on the sign and would also make me not ignore Arabic.

Q: How does the new font you created works? What are the font’s special characteristics?

Liron: I created this writing system for the first time six years ago. It started as a final project during my academic studies and developed a great deal. According to the method I developed, the upper half of the script is in Arabic so that an Arabic reader can read it, while the lower half is in Hebrew. Each new letter consists of half a letter in Arabic and one half in Hebrew. That way, “Aravrit” can be readable in both languages. Each time I left the identifying characteristics of the letter and the other parts had to compromise for the same mutual purpose.

Q: How many possible combinations of Aravrit words have you found so far? Is it possible to assemble more combinations?

Liron: It was important for me that it would be possible to write in Aravrit any word you want. Since most of the words in both languages do not use parallel sounds, I had to create all the possible combinations- each letter in Hebrew with each letter in Arabic. 638 new letters showing the possibilities of letters in Arabic (separated) and Hebrew. Today, I design when Arabic is also connected, and there are no limitations here. You can actually write any word!

Q: How do you think Aravrit can bridge political and social disputes between Israelis and Arabs?

Liron: This project does not come from a political place, it deals with letters that are one of the most basic elements in our life. We do not go above and beyond to read letters- we just do it. Through the use of language, in our daily lives, I see the possibility of change. The bottom line of Aravrit refers to letters but it can easily be seen as a general message: anyone can read his own language without ignoring the second language that is always present. We’re here together, that’s how the situation is and we need to accept it. I think this project is awaking a healthy discussion more than anything else. People talk about our shared life, and do not feel the need to be politicians to get the right to express an opinion.

There are all kinds of use for Aravrit so far. The new script has already made headlines in the culture department as both hebrew and arabic musicians started using the hybrid letters as their logo designs. In addition, you can spot the unique letters showcased in museums, on postcards and in different art exhibitions. All which led to the vitality of the “Kan” youtube video (link attached below) created two months ago, presenting Aravrit to the world. The video has already gained Over 1,200,000 views, tens of thousands of shares and thousands of responses!

Q: I saw that the echoes of the new font also brought you to a meeting in the office of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. I will be happy to discuss the meeting.

Liron: I arrived at the President’s Residence to tell about Aravrit and to welcome those who celebrate Ramadan with the blessing of “Ramadan Cream” (Ramadan blessing). Two children also arrived for the meeting, one in the first grade, an Arabic speaker, and the other a Hebrew-speaking second-grade religious child. The two children painted the words on an Aravrit greeting which I designed especially for the encounter.

To reach the President’s Residence was a tremendous honor for me and certainly exciting. When the children arrived I was shocked to hear how well they read the words without any problem on the first time they saw them and simultaneously I realized how natural and logical this was for them. At that moment I began to tear with excitement. It was also the first moment I had cried from excitement in the context of Aravrit

Q: What reactions have you received so far from both Israelis and Arabs when they heard about the Aravrit script?

Liron: The responses are EXCELLENT and the warmth I get from people is amazing. First and foremost people manage to read the letters! For some it feels a bit like solving a puzzle. A lot of people talk about how important the project is, how it brings many hearts together and finally deals with the foul and miserable “situation” between arabic and jewish people from different angles.

Q: How do you anticipate the progress of Aravrit over the next few years? Do you think the writing will be used in formal platforms in the future?

Liron: I believe Aravrit can certainly be found on various platforms related to our day to day lives, our street and our environment. I do not think it is suitable for road signs, where security and quick reading are most important, but there are many cultural and social institutions that will suit them. I have a lot of goals when it comes to Aravrit and in every conversation I have with people new ideas are being born. I think it’s a project that has no end, and it certainly has many possible paths in the future.

Q: How do you think the Aravrit writing promotes peace in the Middle East?

Liron: Mainly by raising the discussion on the issue, causing a feeling of hope and knowing that there are things here that are being done by civilians and not necessarily by the government. These are so-called small projects, but significant.

Q: Finally, what is peace in your opinion?

Liron: A big word, a hard question. 🙂 The aspiration for a full and secure life.

*********

Hearing what Liron had to say, there is no doubt in my mind that Aravrit is here for the long term. As time proved before, there are no easy solutions when it comes to peace making, but Aravrit is giving us a good example of showing that the hope of reaching a compromise suitable for both sides can exist. Perhaps Liron’s method is teaching us that with the right amount of creativity and innovation we can go a long way.

“Kan” youtube video presenting “Arvrit”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRYuKxtooFc&t=41s

“Aravrit” facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/aravrit/?fref=ts

 

This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region. 

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