Tai Cossich


Typography and Indigenous Languages in Brazil (1998–2007)


Language rights
Indigenous languages
Graphic Design History


Detail of schoolbook in the Munduruku language, showing overlapping diacritics as a result of bad kerning.

This exploratory investigation aimed to identify and collect typographic problems in schoolbooks used in indigenous schools in Brazil. Books in 25 different languages, published between 1998 and 2007, were surveyed. From these sources, a preliminary inventory of typographic problems was compiled. These problems were mainly related to the presence of diacritic combinations not found in Portuguese, the country’s hegemonic language.

The scope of the research comprises a period of changes in the country’s legislation in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples, including the autonomy to plan and access education in native languages. The period is also one of changes in the writing technologies available to produce these schoolbooks, as desktop computers and character encoding standards were slowly becoming available to linguists and indigenous teachers.

The study evidenced the unequal distribution of typographic resources between Portuguese and different indigenous languages used in Brazil.

This project benefited from the Scientific Initiation scheme of the Council for Scientific and Technological Development. The scheme aims to support emerging researchers at undergraduate level.

2007 — 2008


CNPq — Council for Scientific and Technological Development. Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Brazil)


Young Scientist Award, SBDI — Information Design Society (Brazil)


Notes for studies on typography and publication design in indigenous (native) languages of Brazil, Typography Day 2012: Typography in Publication Design, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay), Mumbai, India, 2012 conference paper

Type and native languages in postcolonial America. ATypI 2009: The heart of the letter, Association Typographique Internationale, Mexico City, Mexico, 2009 conference paper

Notas sobre tipografia para línguas indigenas do Brasil (2007). In InfoDesign 4:1. ISSN: 1808-5377 peer-reviewed article

Marina Garone Gravier (2009). In InfoDesign 6:2. ISSN: 1808-5377 interview

Home Institution

University of Brasília, Arts Institute (Brazil)

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