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
6k views

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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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 ...
14
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0answers
266 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
2k 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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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
1k 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?
9
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2answers
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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 ...
9
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2answers
488 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." ...
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
2k 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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2answers
303 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
205 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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6answers
399 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 ...
7
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5answers
663 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 ...
7
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2answers
284 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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1answer
313 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 ...
7
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2answers
1k views

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
312 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 ...
6
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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
7k 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?
6
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3answers
222 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
202 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
625 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
557 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
437 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
99 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
3k 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
876 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
167 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
163 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
249 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
votes
1answer
154 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 ...
4
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3answers
953 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
238 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 ...
4
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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
95 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
263 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
111 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
966 views

Creating Unicode Characters for new language

I recently developed a new language with a perfect script, grammar and vocabulary. I even prepared a dictionary for it. Now, I would like to type my language on my laptop in its native script. For ...
4
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1answer
147 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
124 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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1answer
1k views

Please help me identify this language (image) [closed]

I found this inscription on something I recently purchased, not sure what it is. Can you please help identify it?
3
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1answer
211 views

Was there an evolution of the Greek alphabet in the Middle East?

I recently visited Jordan and noticed that many mosaic are commented with included text. The text seems mostly ancient Greek alphabet, but it also contains non Greek characters such as C, obviously ...
3
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3answers
66 views

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,...
3
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3answers
173 views

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 ...