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I can't find it now but I remember seeing an English word written by a graphic designer in a way that made it look like a Russian word. I don't recall if the meaning of the Russian word was the same (probably wasn't), but I guess it was basically a wordplay for a Russian business.

Is there a term for this in English?

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  • Words that are re-written/adapted using the (non-Latin) alphabet of a different language are sometimes called transliterations. Is that what you mean?
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 14, 2022 at 0:02
  • What you're describing is a matter of fonts. There was a T-shirt that looked like Hebrew letters and spelled Go ... Yourself when read backwards. Writing 5ive is in that direction, as is BASKIN ROB31NS (with 31 flavors hidden). Nov 14, 2022 at 0:07
  • No, it's more how the word looks. Like imagine someone writing the word window by stretching the letters or turning them upside down, in a way that it looks like an actual window. So the same thing, except you make the English word window look like it's a word written in Japanese or Indian or Russian or whatever. Nov 14, 2022 at 0:07
  • @YosefBaskin, yes I think that's closer to what I mean. Is there a term for that? Nov 14, 2022 at 0:08
  • 1
    See also Foreign Imitation Fonts, Foreign Fonts
    – DjinTonic
    Nov 14, 2022 at 0:46

2 Answers 2

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There is probably no general term for what is described in the title of the question, but the term Faux Cyrillic is sometimes used for the specific device of embedding Cyrillic characters in a text that is otherwise in Latin characters, in order to create a superficial appearance of something from a country that uses Cyrillic alphabet.

This is normally done only in advertising or in playful contexts, and would be eschewed in any serious setting. Because the audience for Faux Cyrillic is not expected to have any knowledge of Cyrillic alphabet other than a vague familiarity with what it looks like, the Faux Cyrillic characters are intended to be pronounced as the Latin characters that they most closely resemble, rather than as actual Cyrillic characters.

A similar phenomenon is that of metal umlauts, i.e. umlauts that are used in an English-language context without any regard to how umlauts function in the languages of which they are a part, solely for the purpose of creating, often jovially, a vague impression of something that originated in a country whose language uses umlauts (or of which the intended audience may mistakenly think that it uses umlauts). The word metal in the term reflects the use of such umlauts among the performers of heavy-metal music, even though the practice is not limited to them. As has been pointed out by Mr. Speight in a comment, the absence on the Wikipedia pages on Faux Cyrillic and metal umlauts of a hypernym for them suggests that it probably doesn't exist.

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  • I'm pretty sure that if there were a single word for this, it would appear in the linked page or in Metal Umlaut. The lack of any mention is a strong indicator such a word doesn't exist. Nov 14, 2022 at 17:08
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I don't believe there is single word for that. Best you can do is combine two words in a two-word-phrase.

Calligraphy (Wiktionary) (Calligraphy Wikipedia)

Etymology: Borrowed from French calligraphie, from Ancient Greek καλλιγραφία (kalligraphía, literally “pretty writing”), from κάλλος (kállos, “beauty”) + γράφω (gráphō, “to draw”).

  1. (uncountable) The art or practice of writing letters and words in a decorative style; the letters and words so written.

  2. (countable) Any such style of decorative writing.

  3. (countable) A document written in decorative style.

Illustrative (the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English)

  1. Tending or designed to illustrate, exemplify, or elucidate.

  2. Making illustrious.

Picturesque (Wiktionary)

Resembling or worthy of a picture or painting; having the qualities of a picture or painting; pleasingly beautiful.

We looked down onto a beautiful, picturesque sunset over the ocean.

Strikingly graphic or vivid; having striking and vivid imagery.

picturesque language

"Illustrative calligraphy" and "picturesque calligraphy" are the best candidate two-word-phrases that I could think of. Or you can use simpler phrases like "picture like calligraphy".

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  • Translingual calligraphy, maybe...
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 14, 2022 at 15:44

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