40

Yes, there are. Most famous is of course the Chinese script with several thousand characters. For Unicode purposes, Korean also has a lot of characters, because Unicode encodes Korean syllables as one character (and not just the hangul alphabet). Even the Latin script has surpassed the limit of 127 characters because there are many accented letters (like ...


26

No, there is no relationship. The lowercase form μ is just a calligraphic development of the uppercase form. Here's an illustration with colored dots to indicate the corresponding parts: It's just a coincidence that this looks similar to the lowercase form "u" that developed from Latin "V". (Just as it's a coincidence that the middle of uppercase "M" looks ...


16

Chinese, Japanese, Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sanskrit, the list is endless.


14

None whatever. There are no "official" resources of any kind, for any aspect of the English language. There are dictionaries and grammars which are widely regarded as authoritative, but none of them have any kind of "official" standing, whatever that may mean.


12

This is not a question which can be answered with a yes/no answer. Music is like a natural language in some respects and very much unlike one in others. Here are some suggested similarities and dissimilarities. Music is like (a) language in that: It can be described through a system of rules that operate on a limited vocabulary It combines small building ...


12

These are all normal Greek characters. C is a form of sigma: it's called lunate sigma, and is a variant that's sometimes used in printed texts these days too. Lunate sigma is a Hellenistic development which occurred in handwritten Greek (not specific to mosaics) for speed of writing. (It's also the origin of the Cyrillic C for [s].) In ΔIOCΠωΛIC the omega ...


11

First, diacritics are used in English, in borrowed words, sometimes optionally (like in the words café ~ cafe, façade ~ facade), but sometimes there is no alternative spelling without diacritics (like Übermensch). Diacritics and ligatures can be used in foreign names, like Æneas Mackay. Here is a Wikipedia article about English words with diacritics. In Asia ...


11

I'm afraid I'm going to have to frame-challenge this one. For example, it seems intuitive that a spoken language cannot hold too many words without having a way to write them down (imagine having to memorize 100000 words without the possibility of saving them for later reference). Perhaps surprisingly, this does not seem to be the case! Writing systems ...


10

O is basically just a circle, so unlike with C/G, the visual similarity with Q is trivial. You could equally wonder if C being O with a chunk taken out has to do with anything. Q and O derive from two different Phoenician letters, qop and ayin; back then, they actually did have something in common since both were "throaty" consonants; however, since the ...


10

The letter <j> is really used in some Cyrillic-based alphabets, all of them were once created either by a certain person or by a group of people, that is, these alphabets aren't a product of natural evolution of script. The ones you're interested in are the oldest ones, the Serbian and Macedonian alphabets, Macedonian is actually an adaptation of the ...


9

The Old Latin alphabet had 3 letters for the sound [k]: C, K, and Q. K was used before A, Q before V (the shape U appeared later), and C elsewhere. Besides, C was also used for the sound [g]. Later, K was marginalized and used only in a couple of words, e.g. Kalendae, and a new letter, G, derived from C, was introduced for the sound [g]. In the post-...


8

There is no difference. It is just a matter of spelling. You can write the particle مى as a separate word, or you can join it to the following verb.


8

For an alphabet used for a single language, Vietnamese has: 29 letters (including the vowels without tone marks) 12 vowels can accept 5 tone marks each All these of course in upper and lower case For a total of 178 letters. The Windows-1258 codepage solves this by implementing the tone marks as combining characters only (except for some of the composed ...


8

The goal of the NATO spelling alphabet is to make the symbols as easily-distinguishable as possible, even over noisy channels (such as radio). Brevity (keeping the words short) is secondary to that. So it comes down to optimization. In the end, the original designers determined that the extra clarity from using some three-syllable words outweighed the extra ...


8

Why can't all the 26 letters be given universal names for all the Latin languages? They used to, in fact! Well…mostly. Back in the days of the Roman empire, there were mostly consistent names for the letters of the alphabet: ā, bē, cē, dē, ē and so on. There was a bit of variation in some of them, like ef versus effe, hȳ versus ȳ-graeca, and ex versus ix, ...


7

I think it is Sanskrit, which has been written in a large number of Asian scripts plus Latin. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit#Writing_system for a graphic of 17, which I suspect is not all.


7

Usually the final forms weren't designed intentionally. They arose over time through, effectively, sloppy handwriting. Up through the mid-Hellenistic period, sigma's various forms (from the same root glyph as "Ш", "ש", and "ش") evolved into standard Σ. This shape was used in inscriptions and important writings. But scribbling Σ over and over gets tiring, ...


7

Most certainly. The number of different symbols in a writing system has nothing to do with what can be expressed in it. When it comes down to it, this answer is being represented inside your computer with only two "symbols": a transistor switched on, and a transistor switched off. Yet it can express whatever ideas you like, whether that's a philosophical ...


7

We have a case of historical spellings. We'll use the descendants of the alveolar stops as the easiest to understand: ISO Romanisation: ta - tha - da - dha Devanagari: त - थ - द - ध Khmer script: ត - ថ - ទ - ធ Thai script: ต - ถ - ท - ธ When the Thai script was developed the late 13th century, there was already literacy in Pali and Mon-Khmer scripts. Hence,...


6

The question is why you would need to learn just any Slavic language? Generally, people have a reason they want to learn the language. But if any language will do without regard to usefulness, then I'd recommend starting with a language written in Latin alphabet. In that case, I think Slovak may be slightly more approachable than the others. Both because of ...


6

This may or may not be true, depending on what is meant by "ultimate source": are we talking about specific letter shapes, or just the abstract principle of an alphabet? If the former, no; if the latter, probably yes. Most alphabets in existence (I'm using the term in its broadest sense to include abjads and abugidas) do straightforwardly descend from the ...


6

The only writing system that comes close to what you describe is the IPA, or the now-deprecated APA. However, if you add the consideration of being "phonemic", then we would have to know exactly what you mean by that. IPA has the resources to write distinctions that are not phonemic (in some language), for instance aspiration which is not phonemic in English ...


6

This is an interesting question. As always with transliteration, there are compromises. Why do Azeris still transcribe their names if both the forms are written in Latin? I am aware that they used Cyrillic before and they switched to Latin. Firstly we should note that there are other languages written in the Latin script for which compromises are made by ...


6

As you say, μ is the lower-case version of the Greek letter M. On the other hand, u is not Greek at all; it is Latin lower-case version of U or (in Classical Latin) V. There is no connection between the Greek M and the Latin V, either in shape, or pronunciation, or origin. They are two different letters.


6

It is a bit of an edge case, and much depends on what you mean by "dimension", but the "hidden meaning" usage of furigana above kanji in Japanese may qualify as one extra dimension. The use of the extra dimension varies. It is certainly not part of the usual Japanese writing system, but rather an extension of it into a separate dimension, and it is only ...


6

Good question! The distinctions made between all these different components of a writing system are observed by linguists and then given names. The defining feature of a punctuation mark is that it's purpose is to aid the reader, traditionally when reading aloud. For instance, the spaces we use between words in English is a punctuation mark since it acts ...


6

It depends on what you mean by "decipher", mostly. Many scholars agree that these inscriptions were written in some Semitic language, and that the script was ancestral to Phoenician. Gardiner's proposed interpretation of one inscription, l-bʕlt "to the lady", is also fairly well-accepted. However, at present, the corpus is simply too ...


5

No, the ampersand was not a letter but rather developed from a ligature between e and t in the Latin word et (and - as in etc). It has its origins in 1st century BC and seems to have been in common use since 1st century AD. You can read more about its history on the excellent blog (or book) Shady Characters: http://www.shadycharacters.co.uk/2011/06/the-...


5

Malay and Indonesian (which are very similar to each other) are simple in all the respects you mentioned. Alphabet: Latin alphabet without any diacritics. Pronunciation: Shallow orthography, which means that there is a clear mapping between the letters and the pronunciation. No tones. Grammar: no obligatory marking of numbers or tenses. Indonesian is used ...


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