“Ethnic” typefaces do have a place in graphic design, though you’re well advised to avoid them, unless your client insists. After all, who would give the carry-out box in the illustration a second thought if Moishe had used the typeface Shalom? Even so, sensitivity is recommended. For some reason, ethnic typefaces are only common in the restaurant and bar industries. The most recognizable and ubiquitous of “ethnic fonts” are the faux Asians, or Chop Suey typefaces: Kanban, Mandarin, Rickshaw, Ginko, Wonton, et al. But also available are cliché representations of Irish, Greek, Arab, Tropical Hispanic, Slavic, German and French.
A piece by Paul Shaw in Print Magazine about ethnic stereotyping in graphic design got us to thinking about the many stereotypes that typography can convey: hippies, trekkies, scrapbookers, programmer/geeks, new-agers, believers in unicorns, headbangers, fratboys, needlepointers, taggers, restroom taggers, renaissance fairgoers, secret agents, Klingons and cowboys all have their typographic parodies.
And since we all use the Roman alphabet, it would be redundant to stereotype ancient Latin, right? Guess again.