Groups that help natives and homeless and underhoused people in this town sure have lousy type on their vehicles.

Arial is, as ever, a favourite:

Van is labeled NA ME RES OUTREACH SERVICES in Arial (with phone number in Helvetica Condensed)

Na Me Res is not, in fact, a phrase in an aboriginal language of any kind. It’s an initialism of sorts derived from Native Men’s Residence. (I confirmed that fact.) The phrase just sounds Cree or whatever. (Do you have a mental image of an identifiable Indian male voice breathily pronouncing those syllables?)

As such, it is like a white person wearing a headdress. Or is it like naming a Chinese fast-food chain Ho Lee Chow? I suppose it is untenable to level any kind of criticism at Na Me Res, since a native group is making fun of its own people rather than whites making fun of natives. I guess they get a pass because, self-evidently, a minority cannot stereotype itself.

Arial is also popular on the giant Suburban driven around town by another agency, Anishnawbe Health Services:

Lettering on flank of vehicle reads STREET PATROL in Arial

But if you look elsewhere on that vehicle, you find Novarese Italic, which is in fact Italian:

Dual ambulance doors of Suburban read Anishnawbe Health Toronto in Novarese Italic

But of course Novarese (can you pronounce it?) looks like eagle feathers or some such nonsense, so it makes sense in an “aboriginal” context.

This isn’t Cherokee or Inuktitut; you’re stuck using the white man’s orthography. I know that causes offense, but I want you to show better taste anyway.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.10.13 15:02. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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