Questions tagged [written-language]

Questions which apply solely or mostly to the written forms of languages as opposed to their spoken forms.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
34
votes
2answers
12k views

Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

What are some of the historical reasons why the orthographic symbol ß is not used in Swiss Standard German and “ss” is used instead?
24
votes
3answers
3k views

Can Someone Identify This Diacritic?

My mother is working on genealogy and has run across a diacritic mark that I could swear I've seen before but cannot identify. Here is the last name (said to be Austrian) from two documents. It's the ...
23
votes
1answer
5k views

Deciphering a handwritten script

There are many studies on calligraphy, and in some cultures (Chinese, Indic, Arabic) it became a really significant part of culture. However, there are not only examples of good handwriting. Often we ...
21
votes
12answers
48k views

Why was korea able to remove kanji but japan wasn't when both languages use homophones?

I am strictly interested in the question of homophones and kanji. Korean has homophones yet they removed the Chinese characters and are getting by just fine? Or are they? Japanese kanji lovers say ...
20
votes
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 ...
18
votes
4answers
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, ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

What's the term for correspondence between the written and the spoken form of a language?

Not all languages have the same degree of correspondence between the spoken and the written form. Saying correspondence, I'm referring to the equivalence between what we write in a certain language ...
16
votes
4answers
577 views

Can one's native medium of language be written, rather than spoken or signed?

(This is probably a poorly-formed question, but I'm really just trying to find out if there's any research in this area.) Most children pick up a spoken or signed language at an early age, and this ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Are Written and Spoken English distinct languages?

First of all, I am not a linguist, but I was thinking the other night that being literate was almost the same as being bilingual. My reasoning is that sign language is distinct from written and ...
12
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the Mongolian vowel separator for?

I've heard of the Mongolian vowel separator from programmers, who regard it as an interesting quirk in Unicode. When I google for it, most of the hits are from those revelling in its geekiness. But ...
12
votes
1answer
452 views

How different were the Tangut and Khitan logographic scripts derived from Chinese Hanzi from Hanzi?

Japanese uses a writing system called Kanji, which is a moderated version of Chinese Hanzi. The Kanji characters are similar to or often the same as the corresponding Chinese character, with the same ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Are there languages where a change of character casing can lead to a different meaning of a word?

I'm no expert on linguistics. In fact I'm no even a proper amateur but please, bear with me on this: Are there any languages where a word would change its meaning depending on the casing of one or ...
11
votes
3answers
953 views

How are line breaks handled in bidirectional messages containing both English and Hebrew?

I have some Hebrew (right-to-left) text within an English (left-to-right) text as such: The Hebrew text (right-to-left) by itself looks like this: When the paper does not have enough width, the ...
10
votes
8answers
1k views

Which language was regularly written in the most alphabets?

There are a number of languages which have historically been written in more than one alphabet (Hindi/Urdu, Serbo-Croatian, Uzbek and so on). I am wondering which single language has been regularly ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Excuse my ignorance. I'm writing a work of fiction wherein an archeologist finds a tomb that contains not only the bodies of an unknown/unstudied society, but also samples of writing in that society's ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Most succinct written language

I am wondering what the most succinct written language is. I would call one language more succinct than another if that language could communicate the same idea as another with fewer characters. I ...
9
votes
3answers
397 views

Are non-spoken elements, such as capitalization and punctuation mark usage, part of the English language?

On the English Language Learners SE meta site, I'm involved in a conversation that I find somewhat bizarre. In the order in which they appear, here are the assertions (paraphrased with supporting ...
9
votes
1answer
174 views

Does (or should) the terms "spoken language" and "speech" include signed language?

And if not, is there a term, accepted by both the Deaf and linguistic communities, that includes both spoken and signed language, in contrast to written language? Reputable linguistic sources, ...
8
votes
9answers
23k views

Why does linguistics focus on spoken languages rather than written ones?

I might be wrong since I'm unable to find any sources supporting this, but it's increasingly my gut feeling that linguistics appears to focus on spoken languages as opposed to written ones. If this is ...
8
votes
5answers
633 views

Would an extended alphabet have been a hindrance to inventing computer technology?

One time in a conversation, a person who is very knowledgeable about computers off hand mentioned that it would have been difficult, maybe even impossible, to have developed computational technology ...
8
votes
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
votes
1answer
418 views

Is there a general correlation between the number of homophones in a language and how phonetic its writing system is?

When I think of languages that have a high number of homophones, I think of Japanese, Mandarin, English and French. And when I think of languages with relatively opaque writing systems that are not ...
7
votes
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
votes
6answers
2k views

Which branch of linguistics studies handwriting?

In all 3 of the non-Latin-script languages I have learned to relative degrees of fluency, handwritten and printed forms differed significantly. Of course, this should not come as a surprise. Often, ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Sumerian cuneiform dictionary?

Is there a single, unified place where one can look up cuneiform signs for Sumerian words? Unicode now supports cuneiform, but every source I've found has only transliterations, not actual cuneiform. ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is "och" (and) not spelled "og" in Swedish?

For example, here is the word for "I" in the Old Norse dialects. Old East Norse = Jak Old West Norse = Ek These words became, with a natural evolution, the following: Icelandic = Ég Faroese = Eg ...
7
votes
3answers
652 views

Should emoticons be considered punctuation?

Folowing on from my previous question Are "txt-speak" and "emoticons" examples of normal language evolution? I would like to propose that emoticons are simply now symbols of punctuation, rather than ...
7
votes
4answers
995 views

Is a text with orthographic or grammatic mistakes in a language X still a text in that language X?

Let us suppose that we have a text that in its majority follows the orthographic or grammatical rules of a language X, but 10% of the words have orthographic mistakes, and 10% of the sentences have ...
7
votes
1answer
230 views

Is there a digital corpus somewhere of pre-Latin Vietnamese text?

I like as a hobby to do text processing and analysis of CJKV text. Japanese and Chinese is of course available in near infinite quantities. Korean is a bit harder to find, but not impossible. ...
6
votes
5answers
463 views

Wordplay in ancient texts

I learned once that ancient texts (for example in Latin) did not separate words. Was that always true or only in specific kinds of documents and writings. Since I have been a bit interested in ...
6
votes
2answers
366 views

How are line breaks handled in ideographic scripts?

I'm particularly thinking of a situation where multiple characters form a compound. Can such compounds be broken up over two lines? Examples I can think of as potentially problematic are multi-...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Did Hebrew writing evolve from Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I read somewhere that the Hebrew writing system evolved from Egyptian pictographs. If that's the case, have anyone read about records that trace exact evolution from a pictograph to a Hebrew letter, ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Can a natural language be non-serializable?

Typically, a serializable language can be expressed by strings. Can a natural language be non-serializable? Fictional source which motivated me to ask this question: a character in C. Stross' novel "...
5
votes
2answers
462 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
votes
2answers
308 views

Boustrophedonism effects

From the looks of it Boustrophedon texts should be more efficient to read. However, I can't find any modern day research regarding its effects and reasons why it would have fallen out of use in ...
5
votes
3answers
689 views

In which script(s) is the Kazakh language actually written in Kazakhstan?

According to the Wikipedia article on the Kazakh language it can be written in Cyrillic, Latin and Perso-Arabic scripts as it's a language that does not have its own native script like Armenian or ...
5
votes
0answers
79 views

Are there studies which attempt to quantify the information conveyed by written languages - especially Japanese/Chinese?

I'm curious as to whether anyone has attempted to come up with a quantitative measure of information conveyed by written words, symbols or graphs, and particularly curious if anyone has studied ...
4
votes
5answers
11k views

Why do European languages use a similar alphabet, but South East Asian languages do not?

Why is it that in Europe, most written languages (Spanish, English, German, ect.) use very similar alphabets (Latin), while countries in South East Asia, which are similarly geographically close to ...
4
votes
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
votes
2answers
877 views

How can I distinguish Dutch from Flemish from Afrikaans at a glance?

I don't know Dutch, Flemish, or Afrikaans, but will sometimes, on coming across a writing sample of one of them, wish to know which it is. How do I distinguish them in their written forms?
4
votes
1answer
219 views

Estimating the number of words in a language before invention of alphabet

Here is my question from the title: Given a (natural) language with its writing system based on an alphabet, are there any theories giving (quantitative) estimates on the number of words the ...
4
votes
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
votes
2answers
358 views

To what extent is a language's morphology tied to orthography, and why do we not consider orthography when doing morphological analysis?

Linguistics classes seem to be mostly concerned with analyzing language in its spoken form. Written language is seen as almost "parasitic" to spoken language. A language's orthography generally gives ...
4
votes
2answers
507 views

Can we predict written language's evolution due to technological advances?

Using the "shortcuts" that are used nowadays (emoticons, internet abbreviations, email formatting, memes, social media sharing [Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus, "tweets" and the like) as a base, can ...
4
votes
1answer
495 views

Beta vs eszett character difference

How to write the Greek letter beta and the German letter eszett so that they look different enough? I've seen variants of beta with the final arc ending on the vertical line and ones which have a ...
4
votes
1answer
721 views

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD?

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD? Googling doesn't seem to yield a definitive answer.
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there an Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol meaning "interpreter"?

I'm doing my dissertation on interpreting and while I've been trying to find out the history behind it, I've come across a few websites which say that interpreting dated back as far as the Ancient ...
4
votes
2answers
43 views

What's a good resource where I can publish some narratives in a minority language?

During my fieldwork, I recorded, transcribed and translated a dozen or so narratives in an indigenous language of Central America, in close cooperation with a couple native speakers (including some ...
4
votes
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
votes
2answers
159 views

Are variations normally less frequent within written forms of a language than spoken versions of the same language?

Wondering if my observation that variations normally are less frequent within written forms of a language than spoken versions of the same language is correct. If this is the case, why? For example, ...