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Design of Tamil typeface

Letter Similarity in Tamil letters

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Letter Similarity in Tamil letters

Supervisor: Prof. U. A. Athavankar

Tamil language is considered one of the classical languages of the world. Tamil contains twelve vowels, eighteen consonants and two hundred and sixteen combinations of vowels and consonants plus one secondary sound called atyam. Due to the complex shapes of Indian scripts (Tamil script) it is assumed each letterform is distinct and legible to read. This paper was aimed to test such hypothesis whether there exist a clear distinction in shapes of the Tamil letterforms.

Objective of the research was to determine the letter similarity that exists in vowels (uyir eļuttu) and vowel-consonants (uyir-mey eļuttu) of Tamil letters. Quantitative research methodology was adopted to analyze the similarity using design experiments. The experiment was carried out with 20 Tamil subjects.

The research would guide the type designers by identifying the visually similar letters and refine the design of those letterforms keeping legibility in mind. This also paves way for designing a new typeface for people suffering from dyslexia (though the experiment wasn’t conducted specifically for them) and onscreen fonts which are very difficult to read because of the poor legibility. Finally, a Letter Similarity Matrix was developed showing the possible confused pairs of letters. The research also helps to look at the intricacy and complexity of Tamil letterform.

Letter similarity eexperiment
A screen shot from the experiment.
Confused pairs of letters
One of the confused pairs of letters 'va' and 'nha'