This paper argues that we may read the images from the Lucy Lloyd archive of ancient Khoe and San symbols, drawings and pictograms in a special way that offers an intellectual seriousness to these collaborative picture-word creations that attempted to hold certain faunal and floral knowledge and descriptions from the South African landscape on the transcriber’s page. By foregrounding moments of textual innovation as is evident in the Lloyd archive, I make a case for what that I term ‘typographic reification’. This ‘reification’ is the fulcrum of the ancient drive of the indigenous people of Southern Africa (the Khoe and the San) to offer an excess beyond the translation of their world into a Roman alphabet (the given form) by linguists that came with this aim in mind. Contemporary advances in New Media technology allow this very element of typographic reification (observed in textual and graphic elements recorded on pages of sketchbooks and notebooks from the Lloyd archive) to be offered anew to an international public through the digital typefaces of the South African designer Jan Erasmus who similarly draws his natural environment into the very fabric of his creations. The parallels visible between the innovative methods of transcription and picture-word creations of Lloyd and her Khoe and San collaborators on the one hand, and the digital creation of Erasmus on the other, serve to amplify a conceptual agility that must be celebrated in the South African social imagination as an intellectual bridge between different spaces and times that is a contribution to African philology and a critical history of the text.
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