[[quoteright:350:[[Disney/{{Aladdin}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/foreign_looking_font_7.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Because reading Arabic is tricky.]]

If a movie or cartoon is set in a particular [[HollywoodHistory period]] or [[HollywoodAtlas region]], the creator may want to show certain details to the audience through a sign in the background. However, if most of the audience is educated in the English language, it is not practical to use an actual foreign language. So in order to avoid breaking the feel of the setting, the scene will just have English text written with a [[UsefulNotes/{{Fonts}} typeface]] [[AsLongAsItSoundsForeign emulating the writing style of that region]] [[YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe or period]].

This can also occur on the covers of books or on movie posters in order to evoke the feel of the work's setting.

Compare TranslationPunctuation and TheBackwardsR. See TranslationConvention for the spoken version. This is the visual equivalent of JustAStupidAccent. If the font is so weird that you can't make out what the letters are meant to be, it's {{Wingdinglish}}.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The English-language cover art for ''Manga/ExcelSaga'', both anime and manga, uses a Japanese-styled font for the title. Bonus points for using actual katakana characters turned Latin characters.
* The kanji in ''Manga/BlackButler's'' title are written in the style of Old English blackletter calligraphy, reflecting the show's Victorian English setting. (No, really; see its page illustration!)
* Sometime around the Hoenn Saga in the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime, the producers used a faux-Japanese text on signs, letters, etc., to make it more "acceptable" for a global audience. It appeared earlier in the series too. It doesn't even try to look Japanese a lot of the time, it looks like mixed-up symbols.
* One scene in ''Manga/OnePiece'' has a close-up of Luffy's first bounty poster. Oddly, in a world that [[WordOfGod speaks English,]] has English signs, and English words ''right on the bounty poster,'' the FinePrint is nothing but a random assortment of letters and characters.
* Typesetting, one of the major tasks in creating anime {{fansub}}s, involves finding or in some cases creating fonts to match onscreen Japanese text, which are then placed over or near the original text.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Creator/DCComics is fond of its use of "Interlac", a universal language of the future which naturally just looks like the Latin alphabet redone in some "spacey font".
* Used extensively in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'', not only for writing but also in the SpeechBubbles of characters speaking foreign languages. Egyptians speak in hieroglyphics, Normans in the suitably Scandanavian-styled alphabet (with å and ø for a and o), Greeks uses the proto-Greek angular font, the Goths in blackletter, the Amerindians in pictographs, and Romans tend to get into Trajan-esque capitals when getting eloquent (with V replacing U). Attempts by characters to speak another language are often shown as written in the appropriate font, but jumbled-up or ragged. This was often used when a character spoke in a language those around him didn't understand, but the words were written in the language of the reader.
** ''Asterix the Legionary'' features an Egyptian named Ptenisnet, who speaks in hieroglyphs and must have an interpreter in order for [[strike:the reader]] anyone to understand him. (His name is a drawing of a tennis net.) He is interpreted by a polyglot clerk who speaks all [[strike:fonts]] languages.
** Also occurs (obviously) in ''Asterix and Cleopatra'', but mainly with secondary characters.
** Similarly, [[SymbolSwearing symbols denoting curse words]] also change appearance based on the language the character speaks.
* Various letterers use [[http://www.blambot.com/fonts_dialogue.shtml interesting fonts]] to represent people who have an accent or are speaking an alien language.
* In ''ComicBook/BlueBeetle'', the Scarab-speak letters correspond to English, but they're almost entirely illegible. However, when the Scarab gets CharacterDevelopment, the letters change into more readable English while still invoking the previous version.
* The French cover (but not the English cover) of ''Recap/TintinLandOfBlackGold'' has the words "L'or Noir" written in pseudo-Arabic calligraphy. The Arabic writing underneath is a correct translation of the title (though it wasn't in the first edition; this particular book was revised many, many times).
* In ''Comicbook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', most non-English speech is actually rendered in the original language. In the case of the Martians, their language is depicted using heavily-distorted mirror writing.
* ''ComicBook/TwoThousandAD'' commonly uses vaguely Cyrillic-looking letters when ''ComicBook/NikolaiDante'' is on the cover.
* ''ComicBook/TheMightyThor'' writers like to give his dialogue a calligraphic font.
* Creator/{{Gotlib}}:
** Inverted in "Superdupont vs. Bruce Lee" cartoon by Gotlib. ComicBook/{{Superdupont}} uses the usual comic SymbolSwearing, peppered with some Chinese-looking symbols. Bruce Lee retorts with the same swearing symbols -- only the Chinese add-ons are replaced with ABCDEF.
** Same author, "Nô Japonais". The gag is played straight (to hell and back, that is) ending with [[http://kimonovintage.blogspot.com/2007/05/gotlib-n-japonais-6.html stepdancing little green men]].
* The title of {{Animesque}} comic ''Deity'' is rendered on the cover in a font based on Japanese katakana -- to the point that it takes a moment to realize you're actually looking at English.
* Used to a great extent in ''ComicBook/{{Fables}}''. The occasional BackwardsR makes something instantly Russian.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* Adolf Kilroy, a tortoise who turned up from time to time in ''ComicStrip/ThePerishers'', not only had Hitler's face but also spoke in Fraktur.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Pogo}}'' offers a variation based on job rather than country: showman P.T. Bridgeport speaks in circus-poster fonts, clergyman Deacon Muskrat in churchy medieval script.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'': ''Crazy Hakim's Discount Fertilizer'' is written in Arabic brushstrokes on a sign near a cart of manure near the end of the "One Jump" chase scene. The title itself and the opening credits also appear in ForeignLookingFont. No ''real'' Arabic appears in the movie at all, with the possible exception of a sign over Jafar's door; it's either English in a foreign-looking font or random scribbles that look like what Arabic looks like to people who don't speak Arabic.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays2004'' has this with all the map fonts throughout (eg, Hindi-style script for the Chyrons in India, etc.).
* Creator/PeterJackson's ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'' has both: Although lots of texts appear 'properly' written in Creator/JRRTolkien's constructed scripts for Middle-earth, various instances of text are rendered as English in Latin letters for the convenience of the viewer, but made to look vaguely like[[note]]written in American Uncial font[[/note]] the scripts they are supposed to be. Most notable is probably the Tengwar-imitating font (an originally Elven script, but universally used), even down to the ''tehtar'' diacritics, which in proper Tengwar are vowel signs and here are added to the corresponding vowel letters.
* ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'' used exotic fonts to label each country the story takes place in. [[Website/TheBestPageInTheUniverse Maddox]] criticized this use of the trope in his review of it, saying that its use crossed the line into pretentious and implies that ViewersAreMorons.
* ''Film/StreetFighter'' takes place in the vaguely Southeast Asian country of Shadaloo, where all signs are written in English with pseudo-Thai characters.
* ''Film/TheDeathOfStalin'' [[TheBackwardsR misappropriates Cyrillic letters resembling Latin ones]] to make Soviet propaganda posters and official documents intelligible to an Anglophone audience. The effect is to remind the audience that the events takes place in the USSR and to highlight the farcical absurdity of the real events depicted; it coincides nicely with the fact that the British and American actors [[NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent don't even bother with the accent]].

* Several Literature/FuManchu book covers (and movie and television posters) often feature English words written in Asian brushstrokes.
* In the Literature/{{Discworld}} books, Creator/TerryPratchett sometimes plays with this. For example, in ''Discworld/{{Jingo}}'', dialogue in Klatchian is written in an Arabic font, and words written by the golems are in an archaic font, to invoke their background in Judaic myth.
** From the Annotated Pratchett File:
-->The font used by the golems in the UK editions is clearly designed to look like Hebrew lettering. For some reason, the font used in the American editions is not.
** In "Feet of Clay", the Golems use the Hebrewish looking font. In "Making Money", Golems use the Eochian alphabet created/discovered by Doctor John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I.
** Überwaldian is shown with a blackletter font.
** In some of the books, strong accents are indicated by a change of font mid-sentence, sometimes around a single letter.
*** When someone is speaking Klatchian, they have the whole sentence in the pseudo-Arabic font. When they're speaking Morporkian with a Klatchian accent, the letter that changes font is usually an H (in the one case of someone speaking Klatchian with a Morporkian accent, every letter ''except'' H is in the Klatchian pseudo-Arabic font). If you actually know anything about Arabic, this is a bit of a BilingualBonus, because there are three Arabic letters that can be transliterated as H, and they all sound different.
*** lampshaded in ''Jingo'' by 71-Hour Achmed, who is posing as a sort of 'joke' Klatchian for reasons of his own. His "H'I go, h'I come back' phrase is based on a character in the once-popular 1940s BBC radio series ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_That_Man_Again ITMA]]''.
* The ''Literature/ThursdayNext'' series features an ancient prophet who speaks "Old English"... that is, his dialogue is written in Old English font. One character can understand him (as well as the reader, of course), but the rest really do behave as though he were speaking an ancient dialect.
** And then there's the native language of the Book World, which is Courier Bold.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Justified in ''Series/DoctorWho'', as the TARDIS automatically translates languages, both spoken and written, into the language the companion speaks. This is most apparent in the revived BBC Wales series.
** In "The End of the World", the phrase "Have a Nice Day" is seen on the Doctor's parking/valet ticket for the TARDIS, in an extremely stylised 'futurefont', echoed in various other writings seen in that episode.
** In "The Fires of Pompeii", all writing is rendered in a font reminiscent of the Roman Empire.
** In "Turn Left", the signs at the end of the episode are in English but in a Chinese-looking font.

* Eurobeat label Hi-NRG Attack's ''Eurobeat Anthems'' album has its title written in mock katakana script.
* Music/TypeONegative's ''Dead Again'' album cover uses MockCyrillic.
* One of the Chemical Brothers' albums uses an Arabic-styled font.
* The phenomenon of the HeavyMetalUmlaut is born of the sentiment that Fraktur is not Teutonic enough by itself. (It could instead be that Fraktur is all-but-unreadable to anyone not very familiar with it ... there are numerous letters that are nearly indistinguishable if you're not aware of the conventions. Adding an Umlaut to Blackletter, which is not the same as Fraktur but looks similar, conveys the "Teutonicness" with the added bonus that people born aoutside Germany, or even ''inside'' Germany but after say 1940, can read it.)
* The cover text of Nothing but Noise's ''Not Bleeding Red'' is written in an [[StarWars Aurebesh-style]] script.

* All of the signs and indicators in the Chinatown portion of ''[[Pinball/LightsCameraAction Lights... Camera... Action!]]'' are lettered with the same psuedo-Asian typeface used in many Chinese restaurants.
* Inder's ''Bushido'' features a few Chinese characters and a lot of weird fonts. "Extra Ball" is written under the flippers in a variation of the common Chinese restaurant font, but other writings on the playfield use a more angular font with A's styled to look like ''torii'' gates, and the less said about the title font the better.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* A video game of ''The Hunt for Red October'' featured English text in an imitation Cyrillic font.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert3'' had recently joined the faux-Cyrillic bandwagon, given the nature and setting of the game.
* ''688: Attack Sub'' similarly used a fake-Cyrillic font (all Rs are reversed, Es are 3s, etc) when playing a mission from the Soviet side, but thankfully provided a key combination to reset text to the standard font.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' uses what at first appears to be Fictionary, but is in fact a very stylised English. This is notable because most other games use a cipher with a completely different alphabet instead.
* ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarOnline'' also uses its own signature font for English. It's a bit easier to read than the ''Zelda'' example.
* The title card for the ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolution'' song "I Feel" uses mock Thai/Lao letters.
* In ''VideoGame/QuakeII'', all the Strogg text is in stylized English, while in ''VideoGame/QuakeIV'', it's in {{Wingdinglish}}.
* Raw Thrills' movie tie-in arcade racer ''The Fast and the Furious: DRIFT'' (Tokyo got forgotten, apparently) takes this to a ridiculous level. The menus are outright padded with it, and every sign and billboard has at least some.
* Shows up all over the place in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII''. The languages of their planets are basically English, except the alphabets are written with all sorts of crazy serifs and squiggles attached. The final boss of the latter even has the lyrics to his ''ImageSong'' written on his body.
* ''VideoGame/TotalWarShogun2'' does this for the logo.
* ''VideoGame/HeartsOfIron 3'' uses this on the political map: neutral countries have their names in a 'typewritten' font, the Allies are sans-serif, the Comintern uses [[TheBackwardsR faux Cyrillic]] and the Axis (even Japan and its Chinese puppets) use Fraktur. If a nation joins a faction it changes fonts accordingly.
* ''First Samurai'' uses a pseudo-Japanese font on the title screen. The sequel ''Second Samurai'' uses it for practically all in-game text.
* ''[=RanaRama=]'' displays text in Runic-looking letters.
* The title of Creator/GameArts' UsefulNotes/PC88 game ''Harakiri'' is written in vaguely Sino-Japanese-looking romaji. Considering that the game was only released in Japan, the title might have been intended to parody this trope.
* The arcade version of ''[[VideoGame/{{Shinobi}} Shadow Dancer]]'' uses a hiragana-style font.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', Black Mage pretends to be Blackbelt to talk to White Mage by speaking JapaneseRanguage, [[SelfDemonstratingArticle lendeled in the Chinese lestaulant font]].
* The title of Brain Clevinger's ''Webcomic/HowIKilledYourMaster'' is written in English, but is easily mistaken for Kanji at first glance.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Roommates}}'', the Erlkönig's speech, when he uses his [[TranslatorMicrobes translator spell]] or when [[TranslationConvention everybody understands him]], is written in a runic looking font. (In other cases he speaks Runic {{Wingdinglish}}). Can happen to his son too, mostly when he is really angry, we can presume that this means [[OohMeAccentsSlipping his accent is slipping]]. Odin speaks in this font too.
* ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'' renders The Buddha's (very few) spoken lines in a font that mimics Sanskrit.
* A variant occurs in ''Webcomic/CommanderKitty''. [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2010/11/07/about-death-trap/ Zenith Central apparently uses a futuristic-looking font that confuses CK into thinking he's looking at an alien language.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'': In "The Refund", Gumball and Darwin pre-order a video game called "Cyberground BATTLE II" with "BATTLE" in the style of Chinese/Japanese characters. Arguably a confusing case of TheBackwardsR, with the "A" clearly a 太 and the "E" clearly a モ, the characters skewed to look more Roman/natural.
* ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'': The animated series has words written on buildings that are clearly English words made to look Greek.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': Starting in Season 2, printed text takes the form of oddly [[http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120401142047/mlp/images/c/ca/Snips_and_Snails_on_the_newspaper_S2E23.png distorted]] [[http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120204180041/mlp/images/6/65/Rainbow_Dash_holding_Daring_Do_book_S2E16.png English.]]
** ''WesternAnimation/LittlestPetShop2012'' has followed suit and seems to use the same font, or at least the same type of stylization.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Carol Twombly's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithos Lithos]] typeface is based on Greek letters, though it has the Latin alphabet and Arabic numbers... though it is now frequently used for an African or Native American feel.
* Look hard enough and you'll find fonts in fake Hebrew, fake Arabic, fake Japanese, fake Greek...
** The free font site Dafont.com is full of them, as are myriad other free font sites.
** A fake Korean font exists.
** A fake Hindi font exists in which the letters are just written curvier and have a line on top.
* The absolute king of this trope is Papyrus. It's generically foreign looking enough that it can stand in for nearly anything, from Greek, to Middle Eastern to Chinese. Papyrus is overused to the point where there's a [[http://www.papyruswatch.com/ blog]] dedicated to looking for it.
** A lot of its usage probably comes from the one-two punch of it being both a foreign-looking and ancient-looking font.
** Its overuse is such that the font-fetishising graphic design community can be roughly split into "people who [[http://xkcd.com/590/ hate Papyrus]]" and "[[{{Series/Firefly}} Browncoats]]".
** Trajan started off similarly as a Roman-looking font, but thanks to overuse in movie posters and titles over time it morphed from "Roman Epic" to "epic movie" to "basically every movie". So now it's just the generic movie font.
* The logo for Delirium Tremens beer uses a fake Thai font.
* The "Soy Vay" kosher marinade company uses a Hebrew-based font for its titles. It would make more sense than for Kikkoman to do it!
* TheBackwardsR may give a good impression of Russianness, but for a double whammy, combine it with a font like Rodchenko or Pravda to get over-the-top hammy Sovietness. If you want Ye Olde Russiane instead, consider using the Old Church Slavonic script (Latin versions of it can be found online, such as [[http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/jmag0042/cyrillic.html this one]]).
* The Nazis' infamous yellow star badges had the word "Jude" (or a local word for "Jew") printed on them in Hebrew-flavored Latin characters similar to Soy Vay's. This is most apparent on some Dutch "Jood" badges, which use the real Hebrew character mem sofit in place of Os.
* The various forms of Chinese Restaurant Font, collectively called the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonton_font "Wonton Font"]] by Wiki/TheOtherWiki. A Roman font meant to be reminiscent of the strokes of Chinese characters, which graces every Asian restaurant in the universe outside Asia itself. There's even specifically a font called [[http://www.dafont.com/chinese-takeaway.font "Chinese Takeaway,"]] ostensibly used for this purpose.
** This sort of stroke style appropriation has an Asian equivalent in what one might call "fake Western serifs". The covers of some well-known English-language classics that are translated into Japanese, such as works by James Joyce, sometimes feature Japanese characters with Western-style serifs clearly intended to give them a European look. [[http://www.akibatec.net/wabunfont/library/dynafont/design.html#ugaso Here's an example]] of one such font, for the curious.
* Justified in that establishing and keeping a mood or theme is incredibly important--rule of thumb, if it's important enough to dress up the scene, it's important enough to dress up the font.
** This is pretty much what the sub-group of Graphic Designers known as Typographers do for a living.
* Use of (uppercase!) sigma for "E" makes something instantly Greek. But sigma's a consonant (S, specifically)! Eta's a vowel. Too bad it looks like an H...
** Similarly, the substitution of V for U makes something instantly Latin. Never mind those J's, K's (as in BiggusDickus), and W's, none of which the Romans had.
*** The Romans did use K, but it wasn't used often (Kalendae is the example the Other Wiki gives.)
*** The letters Y and Z were ''technically'' part of the Romans' alphabet, but were exceedingly rare and only earnestly used in a few loanwords they took from the Greeks.
* Somewhere along the line, using completely linear, angular letters (such as a lozenge for "O") became "American Indian font". Most likely because summer camps do this, and these summer camps often have totem poles.
** The same gimmick can be used for "Viking" fonts because it makes the letters resemble Norse or Germanic runes.
* The blog HanziSmatter have identified the [[http://hanzismatter.blogspot.de/2006/08/gibberish-asian-font-mystery-solved.html "gibberish Asian font"]] that tattoo studios use to “translate” English names into what they claim is Chinese.
* When {{Those Wacky Nazis}} created an art exhibition to brainwash their people into believing that all Jews were not only {{Greedy Jew}}s, but also [[AlwaysChaoticEvil dishonest, disloyal and murderous]] {{Dirty Communists}}, the advertising for their exhibition [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plakat_der_ewige_Jude,_1937.jpg bore writing that looks like Hebrew script]] but reads "Der ewige Jude" (German for "The eternal Jew").