Jump to content
Linguaholic

Written Language


Elly
 Share

Recommended Posts

I sometimes wonder how the written language systems developed. Pictograms coming from drawings are reasonable enough. What made the creators of alphabets focus on the sounds? How did the community of early English-speaking (English-writing) people jostle around to decide to keep "c" even though "k" and "s" were right there--and double the "u"? (In French, if I remember correctly, it's "double V" not double u).

China has a number of different languages, but the writing system is standardized because it isn't a phonetic alphabet.

Japanese has three alphabets.

Ogham could be used to write both Gaelic and Latin--I guess it's a reverse of the English alphabet used for "Romanization". It threw me, too, at first, that there are as many notches on a solid line for one character as another, the only difference being a slant, but then again in English calligraphy "a" and "d" can look too similar as well as "e" and "l" if the handwriting is sloppy.

Reciting the carakan alphabet (or syllabarie, I guess is the correct technical term for it) makes a complete sentence that actually makes sense.

What's your favorite writing system? Or the writing system with a development history that you find fascinating?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do love the Egyptians way but then I came to love the modern way on how we do it. It is more clear and it doesn't require artistic skills. I mean, it's cool if you can write in Egyptian but for me who can only draw stick figures, I'm afraid I might convey my message wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do love the Egyptians way but then I came to love the modern way on how we do it. It is more clear and it doesn't require artistic skills. I mean, it's cool if you can write in Egyptian but for me who can only draw stick figures, I'm afraid I might convey my message wrong.

Hieroglyphics are neat. Interestingly, the way of reading hieroglyphics, in which so many important announcements of the ancient world were written, was actually extinct for a while

It doesn't look like it has to be too detailed: "Isis" is a bean-shape, for example. But yeah, the lion still looks like a lion instead of a few simple lines to suggest a lion, the falcon still looks like a falcon...to think that all that complicated attention to detail was almost lost, so the alphabets really depend on the language being alive!

If it were actual symbols rather than a symbolic alphabet (mostly), it might not even have been sure to be understood. People were confused for a while about why some cave paintings showed animals that weren't available for hunting by the people who painted it, and we can guess that these were spirit animals like guardians of the cave people, but we can't be sure. This reminds me of the novel Nation by Terry Pratchett, where this 18th century English princess is shipwrecked on some tropical island after a tsunami, and has to communicate with the only remaining tribesman there. She leaves him a drawing of where her shelter is, and a stick figure that's supposed to be him, and an arrow pointing towards where she lives to mean "come over to visit me." The tribesman interprets the drawing as "stand in front of the place that looks like the drawing, and throw a spear at it" which makes for an interesting first meeting!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I've always wondered how languages like Russian and Hebrew first appeared, mostly because their writing systems are  not very common, not as common as our writing system at least.  It really puzzles me why some human groups decided to use this kind of writing systems... how they could link one of those signs to a sound and so on? 

Thinking of that puzzles me even more.  I heard that before Hebrew the inhabitants of that area in the world spoke Aramaic.  Actually Jesus spoke tat language!  Those two written system look so different, just take a look at the Aramaic script:

aramaic.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just by looking at Cyrillic (Russian writing, right?) it looks very similar to Greek but not... and Greece is geographically quite far so perhaps I'm totally off-base on that.

Aramaic looks very flowy! Does it read from right to left, instead of left to right like we're used to with English?

I too wonder how everyone decided to agree on the symbol-sound link. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's true! Those writing systems are art forms in themselves. Hieroglyphics were partially phonetic, though, I have a pet theory that maybe pictograms as a common alphabet came up earlier on in a language and developed as an art parallel to the spoken language whereas maybe phonetic alphabets might have come about when language had already been spoken for a long time. I could be wrong, though, maybe in a culture where auditory learning was encouraged could spur the creation of a phonetic alphabet earlier in the spoken language. Cuneiform is pretty old, after all, but had to be simpler than pictograms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...