Questions tagged [writing-systems]

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

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23 views

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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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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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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1answer
862 views

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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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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1answer
88 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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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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1answer
89 views

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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9answers
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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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1answer
106 views

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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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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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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1answer
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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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120 views

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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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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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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2answers
102 views

Other Extensible Scripts Besides Latin

Besides the Latin script with its menagerie of diacritics and modified glyphs, what other phonetic scripts are extensible to such a degree to accommodate new sounds? I know the Greek alphabet and ...
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Are there examples of symbols similar to modern emoji or emoticons that were used before 20th century?

In other words, any symbols (ideograms) used to convey emotions that fit the description of "ancient emoji". I'm mostly interested in ancient and medieval attested symbols, but anything from before ...
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159 views

Rejecting writing down a language for various reasons

I remembered reading somewhere about a language that its speakers believe the written words are sacred (or some other reasons) they chose to refrain from putting spoken words into written forms even ...
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4answers
635 views

Is it possible to have a word-based language completely without word inflection?

First, sorry if I'm not using the correct terminology here. By "word-based", I mean typical Indo-European languages (plus Uralic) where there are only tens of characters (e.g. "A to Z" (Latin) or "А ...
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488 views

When was the first bicameral script developed?

The Wikipedia article on letter case says this without citing any references: Both majuscule and minuscule letters existed, but the difference between the two variants was initially stylistic ...
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(How) did Hittite borrow words from Sumerian?

It was always my understanding that Hittite borrowed the cuneiform script from the Sumerians via Akkadian. This would prevent Hittite from borrowing lexemes from Sumerian unless Akkadian borrowed them ...
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Alphabet size affects complexity of written ideas?

Do relatively simple alphabets (Rotokas, Hawaiian) limit the complexity of written ideas? Example: could Rotokas be used to write a technical manual for the space shuttle?
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Which alphabetic writing system first had spaces between words?

Just recently, I believed that spaces between words were first invented with the Carolingian minuscule, invented by the English scholar Alcuin of York. As I just discovered, spacing wasn't first ever ...
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Looking for a character like the greek theta, θ, but with two middle lines

I'm looking for a character in any writing system or even a known symbol (more common is better) that would roughly look like the Greek theta θ, but with two lines in the middle. If there is none, it ...
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3answers
863 views

Is a vowel only writing system possible?

An abjad is a writing system in which only consonants are normally written, is the opposite possible? I've recently discovered that English actually has far more vowel-sounds than we have vowel ...
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1answer
52 views

Is there distinct jargon for syllabaries depending on their inventory?

The dictionary definition of a syllabary is "a set of written characters representing syllables and (in some languages or stages of writing) serving the purpose of an alphabet." I would personally ...
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If the Romanization of Logographic (and other) Languages is Fully Accurate

Wondering if the translation of languages such as Chinese and Japanese into Romanized versions is accurate. That is, it doesn't lose information. For example, in Romanization of Chinese, they say ...
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596 views

“Character sets” for top 100 languages (as opposed to Unicode)

Searching "the number of languages" shows about ~7,000. However, Google Translate only has ~100 languages listed. That makes me wonder if the languages have a lot of overlapping/duplicated elements. ...
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201 views

Is it possible to read the narrow IPA transcription of one's native/fluent language as effortlessly and quickly as its conventional orthography?

it seems there's no neurolinguistic limit on how many letters can a language's alphabet have (it varies a lot between languages), the IPA is a huge phonetic alphabet, As of the most recent change in ...
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How to quantify and compare different ways of segmenting and transliterating (reading) a text in terms of uncertainty/leeway?

I. Let us say we have a syllabary of n symbols. II. Let us have three ways or methods of transliterating a text written using the symbols of the syllabary: The first method considers the syllabary ...
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Why are the scripts of Crete known as “Linear”?

Two famous, apparently related scripts now known as Linear A (which encoded an as-yet undeciphered language) and Linear B (used to write Greek) were discovered on the island of Crete. Why are these ...
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Are the characters in some writing systems more or less visually distinctive than in others?

I'm curious about how writing systems like Burmese or Thai - the characters of which look to my untrained eye far more similar than Latin or Japanese characters - are distinguished by native readers, ...
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When did other slavic nations adopt the Latin-inspired look of printed Cyrillic pioneered in Russia?

Russian Emperor Peter I famously reformed the Cyrillic script in Russia, where, among other changes, he redesigned the letterforms to more closely resemble the look of the modern Latin script. Here ...
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Zellig Harris and the alphabet

I would be very interested if someone could provide me with a useful link to read Zellig Harris's text on the origin of the alphabet. The reference is: Harris, Zellig S. 1933. “Acrophony and ...
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Why is Hangul (Korean script) not considered an Abugida

Abugida is a language where consonant and vowels form a unit of some form, and are typical in South Asia. Now, the Korean language isn't related to those languages, of course. But the Korean language ...
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1answer
109 views

'u' as a substition for 'v'

In Shakespeare's First Folio (please see the picture), I found that a letter 'u' is used instead of 'v'. For example, "seuen" means "seven". To know this reason, I visited many websites, but what I've ...
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Is capitalization a recurring feature across writing systems?

Is it a common feature for a writing system to include a capitalized variant of itself? What is the purpose of capitalization in itself? Is it ever truly necessary for comprehension?
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Julius Caesar original name spelling?

Was Julius Caesar originally spelled with and I before "J" was invented? Or was it spelled some other way? If so, how? I'm curious.
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Are there the languages that have writing systems consisting only numbers? [closed]

When I knew about Major Mnemonic System, I thought: "Are there the languages that have writing systems consisting only numbers?" Do they exist?
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In what way is Japanese related to Sanskrit?

The Wikipedia says that Japanese katakana vowels “The gojūon inherits its vowel and consonant order from Sanskrit practice. “. Could expert explains this in easy language?
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Are there any historical runic transcriptions that utilize two runes to represent a sound change? (particularly in the Anglo Saxon rune sets)

Anglo Saxon did not distinguish by voicing usually, particularly with the sounds /s~f~z~v/. After the adoptions of the Latin Alphabet letters "f" and "s" were doubled when representing a voiceless ...
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Difference between ideogram and logogram?

I'm having a bit of trouble differentiating these, and I'm wondering if it's because these are generally fuzzy concepts and nobody cares much, if I haven't read into it enough, if my innate ...
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What are some phonetic writing systems where symbols correspond to syllables?

As far as I know, only Japanese has phonetic symbols that correspond to syllables. I wonder if there are any others. I probably have used the wrong jargon but hopefully, you know what I mean.
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Why was polyphony a failure for the Sumerians, when English functions with heteronymy?

Source: Language at the Speed of Sight (1 ed. 2017), p. 45 Bottom.   Combining graphical elements to create words is an essential property of modern writing systems, but the cuneiform ...
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Why is a Compound Ideograph disastrous if the meaning of the characters are relevant, but not their pronunciations?

Source: Language at the Speed of Sight (1 ed. 2017), p. 45 Bottom.   Combining graphical elements to create words is an essential property of modern writing systems, but the cuneiform ...
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How do languages which prefix proper nouns (by case marking, clitic article, etc) do capitalization in Latin Alphabet?

There are languages which put a prefix or a clitic before a noun to mark definiteness or case. How different languages using Latin alphabet which have this declension or marking deals with ...
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Is there a standard system for transcribing modern Irish in Ogham?

Ogham is historically used to write Old Irish and Primitive Irish, but I have not been able to find any evidence of its use persisting in modern Irish. It does not have a nice correspondence with the ...
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Is use of sorting expected and used in East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)?

For an English speaker with 26 characters, the concept of sorting is ubiquitous. If I see a list, I inherently expect it to be sorted by one of the columns, and of course clicking a column to sort is ...