Paul Shaw looks at the use of “ethnic typography” for Print Magazine, and finds that it serves its own purpose.
They are shortcuts, visual mnemonic devices. There is no room for cultural nuance or academic accuracy in a shopâ€™s fascia. Restaurant owners want passersby (often in cars rather than on foot) to know immediately that they serve Chinese (or Greek, or Jewish) food.
His article also examines the background behind a few of the more popular typefaces. I understand that these typefaces serve a purpose, but I still balk at the use of Papyrus as an “Irish” font.