Questions tagged [writing-systems]

A writing system is a system to record spoken language visible on a permanent medium.

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Do we know enough to become fluent in written Mayan?

There are about 7000 languages but only three origins of writing: The Middle East, China, and Mesoamerica. The most studied writing system in Mesoamerica is Mayan script. It was once the official ...
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Do these letters belong to Kannada?

I am native Kannada speaker. But I've never came across these vowels: ಌ (U+0C8C) ೡ (U+0CE1) ೢ (U+0CE2) ೣ (U+0CE3) and these yogavahs: ೱ (U+0CF1) ೲ (U+0CF2) Unlike ಱ, ೞ I've never saw/heard above ...
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18 votes
3 answers
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Why was "zh" picked to represent /ʒ/, and where does it come from?

As a native French speakers I used to be puzzled by Zh being used for /ʒ/. At first because I didn't understand the need for it, since in French j is /ʒ/, and dj is /dʒ/. Then I understood why English ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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What does the letter do ৡ in Bangla?

There are 14 অ বর্গীয় (O borgiyo) letters in Bengali. But couldn't find out in book what they are. I know that there are 11 vowel letters in Bengali. But while looking for অ বর্গীয়, I just found that ...
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4 answers
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How is "mim(م)" letter connected to "dal(د)"?

Whenever I go to mosque, there is always the following image near "ﷲ" name. However, I don't understand how "mim" letter is there. I know "mim" letter as "م". ...
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2 answers
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How do Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs differ?

The Wikipedia article on the History of Writing contains the following quote: the earliest solid evidence of Egyptian writing differs in structure and style from the Mesopotamian and must therefore ...
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Why does text in Cyrillic or Japanese contain Latin characters for technical/scientific terms?

Through a question on a sister site, I stumbled upon a Bulgarian document that includes drawings and measurements. What stroke me is that the text in Cyrillic contains Latin characters when it comes ...
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Is there a collective term for the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek alphabets?

I was just wondering if such a term exists, since they are very similar to each other, and all of them derive from the Greek alphabet, so I thought perhaps there might be a collective term for the ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Books on historical writing systems

Can you recommend books on the writing systems that are not widely used today (e.g. the Germanic runes, the Old Turkic script)?
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Is を as almost exclusively an object marker exceptional amongst alphabet usage?

The almost exclusive usage of を in Japanese to mark the object of a sentence- is that the only specialized use of a letter or are there other languages where one letter is designated as being for a ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Why are Urdu and Shahmukhi perceived as separate scripts?

It is known that the Urdu script is used to write Hindustani languages and Shahmukhi is used to write Punjabi and Saraiki languages. But both the Perso-Arabic-based scripts are of the same Nastaliq ...
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16 votes
11 answers
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Writing systems that do not preserve spoken order

Are there writing systems where there are cases of written form of words not preserving the order of speech, i.e. text(A) precedes text(B) in the written form, but speech(B) precedes speech(A)? Only ...
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Boustrophedon-like writing system with single character orientation

Did a writing system ever develop that had a bi-directional writing style, alternating every line, with character orientation and order being preserved between lines? (Essentially Boustrophedon, ...
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1 vote
2 answers
109 views

Probability based algorithm to convert IPA into english language text

For a student job i'm creating a neural network-based method of determining the probability that two written names are referring to the same person (e.g. what is the probability that kelly m. refers ...
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18 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why were writing systems invented independently during roughly the same period across multiple civilizations?

Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years, and spoken language is believed to have been around for 50,000 to 150,000 years. Writing is a relatively new phenomenon. According to this source, ...
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Why are meaning, sound, and writing "part of the outside world, not part of language"?

The linked question explains why writing isn't language, but the embolded sentence is alleging something different, that writing isn't even "part of language". Why? Linguistics usually ...
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character v. glyph v. grapheme/morphogram v. ideogram v. logogram v. pictogram v. symbol vs. syllable

My 15 y.o. daughter is learning Chinese, but these different terms bafle us! How do they differ? Where do these other terms fit into Table 3.5, which contains merely FOUR of the terms in the title of ...
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1 answer
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Why's writing not language?

Writing is not language. How? Doesn't the sentence — that I underlined in red on p 280 — contradict this? The author wrote that if "language is manifested instead as graphic marks, then we can ...
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1 answer
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Do any other languages use ruby characters(furigana) as extensively as Japanese

Just what the question asks. I’ll note that Chinese does use it extensively with pinyin when teaching Chinese to western foreigners. However I’m referring to using in materials by and for native ...
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1 answer
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How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake?

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake? For example: Your the best. This iz the end. I likes music. She preatend to be asleep. One method is to read the erroneous sentence aloud (...
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13 votes
10 answers
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Are there any diacritics not on the top or bottom of a letter?

I don't know of any besides the horn on Ơ and Ư and the middle tilde on ᵯ and some other consonants I'm interested in particular in a diacritic precomposed with both "I" and "U"
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3 votes
3 answers
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A term for sign/symbol that represents multiple letters

At the time the Quran was revealed, the Arabic letters that we know of today was different. As I understand it, they did not have the concept of letter in the meaning we understand today. For example,...
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What is the official/correct orthography for Alsatian / Elsässisch German?

As per the Wikipedia article on the Alsatian language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alsatian_dialect#Orthography) the orthography includes the latin letters A,B,C ... X,Y,Z and the following vowels ...
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Glagolitic Ⰾ (l) is like Ⰴ (d). Is it related to Latin / Old Latin l / d lingua dingua, lacrima dacrima?

Glagolitic Ⰾ (l) is like Ⰴ (d). Is it related to Latin / Old Latin l / d lingua dingua, lacrima dacrima?
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5 votes
0 answers
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Which writing systems have the highest/lowest stroke-to-sound ratios?

Preemptive note: This question is about sound-based writing systems, excluding logographic systems like Chinese. Transitional systems like Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya script or Man’yōgana are also ...
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19 votes
4 answers
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Is the Cyrillic letter 'Z' the same as the number 3

Why do the Cyrillic 'Z'(З) and the number '3' seem to be the same glyph? Is there a difference that I'm just not seeing? They look identical to me
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why did "s" use to look like "f"?

Example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Houghton_EC65.M6427P.1667aa_-_Paradise_Lost%2C_1667.jpg Paradife loft. There is no way that I can ever read that as: Paradise lost. The ...
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-5 votes
1 answer
159 views

Can all scripts be used to write all different languages?

I am thinking about making an introductory book to some different "languages", for self learning. But I realize I'm blending the writing system with the pronunciation system, and am starting to get ...
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1 answer
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How are the Ogham stones inscribed?

I earlier asked How to convert Old Irish Latin script to Ogham? and am not quite complete with the answer. I have a similar question still trying to dig into how to build an Ogham generator. But ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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Why do we make a distinction between letters and punctuation marks?

In English, for example, the word "don't" is made up of 4 letters ("d", "o", "n" and "t"), and one punctuation mark ("'"). However, there seems to me to be no reason for this distinction. Without any ...
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1 vote
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Is there a database or standard (ISO etc.) which maps Unicode or ISO-15924 scripts with the ISO-639/Glottolog etc. languages that use them

Is there a database or standard (ISO etc.) which maps Unicode or ISO-15924 scripts with the ISO-639/Glottolog etc. languages that use them, so that I can make queries like the following on it: For an ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Are there logographic writing systems for the blind? Do blind users of logographic writing systems struggle like how deaf users of alphabets do?

I'm not a linguist, but I borrowed a textbook from my university library and read the chapter on writing systems. The textbook is Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction by William O'Grady. In it, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Was the Thai letter ด really derived from ต?

Understanding the relative chronology of implosivization in Thai and Khmer, and how it interacted with the development of the scripts, is difficult (at least for me). In the first answer to this ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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Why does capitalization exist?

For background, I'm a systems developer, not a linguist. There's a tendency to dismiss any grammar rules in my line of work namely because of how "strict" (read: dumb, simple) the computers and ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
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Is thorn cognate with Bactrian sho? [closed]

There is a letter thorn that suffered a great loss in Old English with its size being doubled and this double sound is hidden in plain sight. I think that thorn may be related to the Bactrian sho ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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The term "proto" in "proto-language"

I noticed that both Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Indo-European have the title of "proto", although the Proto-Sinaitic has actual scripts which were found and studied, i.e. it is a fact that it existed, ...
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1 vote
2 answers
307 views

What is the modern general communication language writing system with simplest letter symbols?

I would like to know what is the modern, formal, writing system with simplest (most minimal) letter symbols by these means: Total number of letters comprised only or mostly from line segments (...
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1 vote
1 answer
118 views

Where can I find the letters of documented writing systems, as text, online?

I was looking for the letters of the Safaitic writing system of Ancient North Arabian (ANA) as text, online. Safaitic is a well documented and researched writing system that was a prominent (if not ...
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2 votes
2 answers
227 views

How similar are the prototype writing systems of Ugarit-Tyre ("Phoenician") and Safaitic?

I understand that that in the ancient Levant, two main writing system patterns were used by the different peoples of the region: Phoenician and Ancient North Arabian. I further understand that both ...
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10 votes
3 answers
2k views

How well do Semitic languages preserve consonants over time?

I'm not too familiar with the details of Semitic languages, but as far as I can tell it seems the tri-consonantal roots of words are relatively important. If the consonants change over time, did they ...
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1 answer
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How are words seperated in Arabic? Is empty character sufficient always?

I am trying to count Arabic words in some verses in Quran. What is the universal rule to seperate words in Arabic, particularly in Arabic used in Quran? My computer program uses empty character to ...
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20 votes
9 answers
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Languages which changed their writing direction

I am interested in account of languages that had undergone a change in the writing direction somewhere in the history. We might say, for example, that Greek was used to be written also (not sure if ...
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How can I tell if a vowel is "empty"?

In Hittite cuneiform, every glyph with a phonetic meaning is either V (a vowel), CV (a consonant followed by a vowel), VC, or CVC. As a result, there's no way to represent three consonants in a row ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How do I know if a cuneiform character is a logogram or determinative?

When I'm looking at a Hittite text, occasionally I'll come across a glyph that has no phonetic meaning. This generally means one of two things: either it's a logogram, or it's a determinative. Either ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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The Cyrillic script among the Slavic people

Today the Cyrillic script is used by the East Slavs, such as the Russians and the Bulgarians, but the West Slavs (e.g. the Czechs, the Poles) and some South Slavs (e.g. the Croats, the Slovenes) use ...
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10 votes
6 answers
580 views

Do multi-dimensional writing systems exist?

I am not sure whether linguistics board is the right place to ask this question, but since I couldn't find any better place here is the question: Most (all?) of the writing systems are using the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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relationship between writing systems, scripts, and font. Terminology clarification required

I want a clarification on terminology. A language is written in a particular script . but there are various styles for writing a script. For e.g. arabic is written in arabic script, and it can be ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Does an alphabet with the uniform letter frequency distribution exist?

A language employs some kind of alphabet for writing. One could naïvely expect that each letter bears the same amount of entropy. But in reality that is not the case. For example in English each ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What made some languages change normal writing orientation?

For Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese, writing was done in 漢字 (English spelling may vary), going down and stopping and switching to the next line on the left and repeating the process again. ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Learning a script as an adult

It is well-known that it is difficult to compete with native speakers when learning a language as an adult. But is there a similar phenomenon with writing systems? Can non-natives (e.g. of Arabic or ...
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