Questions tagged [writing-systems]

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

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20
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9answers
4k views

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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4answers
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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
18
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4answers
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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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11answers
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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 ...
15
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2answers
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If the Arabic script is suited to Arabic grammar, how do speakers of non-Semitic languages cope with it?

The Arabic script is an Abjad writing system or consonantal alphabet. Most letters stand for a consonant, and short vowels are usually not indicated (but can exceptionally be indicated with diacritic ...
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10answers
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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"
13
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0answers
297 views

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 ...
11
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Are there practical reasons why languages developed left to right or right to left writing sytems

Some writing systems go right to left, such as Arabic: Others left to right, for example modern romance languages: Languages like Japanese traditionally used vertical writing systems where the ...
10
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3answers
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 ...
10
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2answers
593 views

How are English spellings determined for words from eastern languages

How are English spellings determined for words from languages with logographic writing systems. Since these don't have an alphabetic script the words in the original language don't have a "spelling." ...
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2answers
1k views

Is Stephen Bax' partial decoding of the Voynich Manuscript plausible?

Having browsed Stephen Bax' paper "A proposed partial decoding of the Voynich script" (available here), as a scientist in the natural sciences (physics, mathematics), I find his proposed decoding of ...
9
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6answers
532 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 ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Why is Hangul (Korean script) not considered an Abugida

An abugida is a script where consonant and vowels form a unit of some form, and are typical in South Asia. Now, the Korean script isn't related to those languages, of course. But the Korean script is ...
9
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2answers
3k views

Why do languages with such different alphabets use the same common punctuation marks?

From my experience, many languages with absolutely different alphabets colloquially use the same common punctuation marks, such as: the question mark (?), for inquiring/interrogatives exclamation ...
8
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6answers
2k views

Are there writing systems with more than upper case and lower case?

The English alphabet has two "cases", UPPER CASE and lower case. Japanese hiragana has one case. Are there any writing systems, with, say, 3, 4 or more cases?
8
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2answers
323 views

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 ...
8
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1answer
224 views

Are there literate speech communities for Sign Languages?

I am aware of some systems of sign writing (e.g. Sutton SignWriting). They are used in dictionaries, teaching materials, or scientific documentation. But did some Sign Language speech communities ...
8
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1answer
4k views

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 ...
7
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4answers
9k views

Is there a long list of languages whose writing systems don't use spaces?

Some languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Khmer use writing systems that don't use spaces. What are other such languages? Is there a list of these languages?
7
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2answers
339 views

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 ...
7
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2answers
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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?
7
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2answers
381 views

Musical notation in languages with right-to-left writing

How does musical notation in languages that use right-to-left writing direction (such as Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Urdu, Yiddish) look like? Is it right-to-left too? If not (i.e. if they use the same ...
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4answers
1k views

Can the Chinese script be used to record non-Chinese languages?

I know of at least 3 countries in the Sinosphere that have historically used the Chinese script (or scripts derived from it) - Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. So how did it work? Did they use it to read ...
6
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4answers
799 views

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 ...
6
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5answers
851 views

Do any other languages have an equivalent to the hiragana and katakana alphabets?

Hiragana and katakana contain the same sounds (morae I think), but are typically used in different words. In particular, most European loan words use katakana (a few don't), and a large proportion of ...
6
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1answer
416 views

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 ...
6
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3answers
261 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
248 views

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, ...
5
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4answers
698 views

Recognize this script? [closed]

I've wondered about this script since I saw it years ago. I imagine it's an English cipher. Can anyone tell me?
5
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3answers
1k 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 ...
5
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2answers
666 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 ...
5
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2answers
463 views

How does one learn the meaning of a new symbol in Chinese?

We've all been there. Say you're reading an article about something, and you come across a new word you've never seen before; how do you find out what it means or what it sounds like? In most non-...
5
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0answers
131 views

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 ...
4
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4answers
2k views

Is there some relationship between the modern u and μ?

I study Mathematics and Statistics and one of the most common symbols we tend to write is μ which obviously is the lower case 'Mu'. It is one of the easiest symbols to learn when first encountered ...
4
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2answers
4k views

How to identify a foreign language from handwriting?

As asking language-ID-questions on this site seems off-topic I'd like to know whether there is a resource on the internet which can help me. I found a the curious snippet attached to a balloon which ...
4
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1answer
890 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, ...
4
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2answers
189 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 ...
4
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2answers
196 views

(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 ...
4
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3answers
314 views

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?
4
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1answer
188 views

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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3answers
1k 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. ...
4
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2answers
269 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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2answers
2k views

Are Tajik and Persian mutually intelligible?

I know that the Persian language family has three branches: Persian, Dari and Tajik-Persian. Is the Persian of Iran mutually intelligible with Tajik? And how does the Tajik Cyrillic alphabet differ ...
4
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1answer
143 views

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, ...
4
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2answers
307 views

Calculating writing system efficiency with respect to reading ambiguity?

I have been thinking of developing a software tool that would make it possible to calculate the efficiency of a particular writing system (attested rather than hypothetical) for a particular language (...
4
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1answer
128 views

Possible methods of input for languages with a lot of diacritic characters

I'm afraid this question may be closed as off topic, but I am struggling to find a more applicable stack to ask this in. I am in the very early stages of studying Babylonian, and I am struggling with ...
4
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1answer
191 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 ...
4
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0answers
178 views

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 ...
3
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5answers
1k views

Which writing script can represent all human sounds?

Being a Nepali language speaker, I can easily produce most sounds in Devanagari script as every letter has the same sound despite the place of use. But there may be many sounds that are not ...