4d. Example of some symbol design and position challenges

Updated by Global Symbols with UNICEF ECARO

When asking the question

"Which three elements of language and scripts have the most impact on symbol design?"

Are you surprised by the top three answers? Top ones are gender, word order (some languages have word combinations for one concept) and polysemy (when one word or symbol has several different meanings) such as ‘spring’ (water, time of year and to jump up in English). Survey results from 15 professionals.

symbol design challenges graph

  • The impact of gender can mean there are multiple examples of a symbol such as friends where there is a need to single sex versions. Imagine a small dog
  • Word order with combined concepts can affect symbol design, as well as placement on communication charts for the creation of phrases and sentences.
  • Try not to include scripts or letters in symbols that will need multilingual labels or concepts.
  • Be aware that number in terms of plural can be dual and many in some languages
  • The direction that an individual faces may be different to show the hand used for eating etc and whether the tense is past or future. This is part of the impact that grammar has on the look of the symbol when adding additional elements such as arrows etc.
  • Font size of the label can impact on symbol size when designing a communication board.
  • Word spacing on labels can also have an impact on the size of cells. Sample sentence in Arabic and English. sample arabic english sentence I read your red book today