Hana Bayssa Tesfaye
Tsafyee (Un)Dotted Ethiopic & Amharic Tracing Book

Welcome to Amharic Town Tracing Book is created using an original tracing typeface: Tsafyee (Un)Dotted Ethiopic. This typeface isn’t one that would normally be used to write body text or even titles but it is just as important. Tsafyee (Un)Dotted Ethiopic fights colonialism by empowering anyone but especially Ethiopians to own their language. As a part of the diaspora population we are prone to be forced to assimilate and in the process lose our language and identity. This typeface accompanied by the workbook is created to fight that and take back control over our heritage.

Another layer of colonization this project fights is environmental issues. By making sure it is created in a durable way that allows for the use of whiteboard markers on it, makes the book long-lasting and gets an infinite amount of use out of it. The workbook is currently geared towards teens and adults who want to learn more about the Amharic language and how to write it. The very first step in learning almost any language is learning the alphabet.

This book utilizes vibrant colors as an aesthetic choice, homage to the Ethiopian flag, as well as a practical organization method. The letters are personified to be members of a community/ town because community is a core value for many Ethiopians. It also helps to make connections with the letters to better understand why a letter looks the way it does. The book focuses on the psychological methods of learning and strives to move away from traditional methods that heavily rely on memorization. Traditional methods of learning Amharic consist of reciting the sound of the letter repeatedly while looking at a list of the alphabets in order. This proves to be tedious and has a short retention time, making for an overall slow learning process. This book shifts the teaching method from memorization, which is associated with short-term memory, to visual cues, associations, colors, and more which is linked with long-term memory. Although some level of memorization is still needed in this book, it is a dramatically less amount. The goal is to have a solid connection with each letter in the alphabet rather than having to rely on memory-based recognition. This workbook will ensure a solid foundation for an empowering journey in an easy and playful manner.

Hana Bayssa Tesfaye

My name is Hana Bayssa Tesfaye. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in graphic design with an animation and psychology minor at DePaul University. I have a passion for education and hope to one day teach at the college level by getting my PhD. This project aims to utilize visual methods of learning that extend from simply learning a language through memorization. It analyzes patterns, personifies the Amharic alphabet to enhance storytelling elements, and uses color as a tool for organization and effective communication. I was born in Ethiopia, raised in Yemen, and have spent most of my early adult life in the United States. Throughout each moment in my life, my culture, language, and identity have kept me grounded; they are the driving forces of my design designations and passion. I created the typeface Tsafyee (Un)Dotted Ethiopic for this workbook to fight colonialism by empowering its readers, specifically Ethiopians, and to own their language.

This typeface is the first of its kind. Most Amharic tracing books utilize typefaces that are not friendly for learning and are too decorative. Tsafyee (Un)Dotted Ethiopic is the alphabet broken down to nothing but the bone of each letter so that the extra additives and embellishments of display type don’t distract the learner as they trace. In addition, the dotted version helps the learner trace instead of writing over letters that are more intended for display or body copy. As a part of the diaspora population, we are forced to conform to American culture, and in the process, we lose our language and identity. This typeface accompanied by the workbook was created to comeback cultural assimilation and take back control over our heritage. The tracing book is created using the theme of a town to simplify and visually illustrate a complex alphabet. It is currently geared towards children and teens ages 3+, but anyone who wants to learn more about the Amharic language can use this workbook too. The first step in learning almost any language is learning the alphabet, and this workbook will ensure a solid foundation for an empowering journey in an easy and playful manner.

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Thank you to our Capstone volunteers, including students Leslie Ramirez, Chris Keramidas, Caroline Schlegel, and faculty member Laura Rossi García. Special thanks to 2020–21 Capstone faculty Shiro Akiyoshi, Nathan Matteson, and Heather Snyder Quinn.

College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design
243 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago IL 60604

Graphic Design Capstone Showcase 2020 and 2021
Advisors: Shiro Akiyoshi, Nathan  Matteson, and Heather Snyder Quinn