All of a sudden my fonts are rendered like the image below. I cannot seem to find a solution; I have already tried reinstalling pantheon but this does not fix it.
Chinese characters seem to be rendered correctly.
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Quite an old question, but I just had the same issue on Loki and I found a solution to it. It seems to have happened when the system had a heavy load on memory (though I'm not sure). I found out that the Pantheon default fonts changed. It was tricky to check since the graphical terminal also had these weird fonts so I had to open a text-based terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F1). There I found the default font:
mikki@mikki-dell:~$ gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.interface font-name 'Redacted Script Regular 9' mikki@mikki-dell:~$ gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.interface monospace-font-name 'Redacted Script Light 10'
Turns out these are script fonts which are quite unreadable. I quickly changed to something else (it needs to be entered on the graphical terminal), like:
mikki@mikki-dell:~$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface monospace-font-name 'DejaVu Sans Mono' mikki@mikki-dell:~$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface font-name 'DejaVu Sans'
The fonts changed back instantly to readable. The applications must be reopened to pick up the new font.