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Translated Sounds

TRANSLATED SOUNDS译声 is an ongoing experimental project that focuses on how onomatopoeia differs in English and Mandarin Chinese and presenting them in a visual and dynamic way using typography and motion graphics.

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Onomatopoeias are words that mimic the actual sounds in our life. I first became interested in onomatopeias during my study abroad in Japan, when one of my assignments was to learn about Japanese onomatopoeias. I was amused by the range and ideas these words could portray and the difference in languages even when mimicking the same sounds.

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Possible visualisations of each word

Experimentation & Style

I want to start experimenting with as many ways I could with how I could visualize sound and this is the first experiment I made to try and figure out how I want to visualise these onomatopoeias. This one was created by mapping the amplitude of the Chinese onomatopoeia for woof, “汪(wang)” with the outline of the character.


mapped to the amplitude of its pronunciation

This is another experiment I created in both English and Chinese trying to visualise what the onomatopoeia means and represents. I enjoy this style a lot more as I thought it was a lot more flexible than the previous experiment. I also decided that I was going to make the appearance of the English and Chinese characters/font in a similar style. Much of this project was purely experimental, but a lot also replies on planning and setting certain parameters to make sure there is still some consistency throughout the individual motion pieces. 


​Ding Dong




Going into a few more motion pieces, I’ve decided to create a font for the English characters to make my workflow faster. I created a few rules of how the font is going to look and make it into a monospaced all-caps font to easily control the length of the words as well as lining up with the Chinese versions.

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English typeface

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Creating font with Fontforge

I kept the height of the characters the same height, but the length of the Chinese characters are slightly wider than the English characters because the word count in Chinese words is usually a lot shorter than English.


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