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36 votes
Accepted

Why isn't there a letter for /b/ sound in Greek alphabet while they have the sound?

The last time the Greek alphabet was truly overhauled was millennia ago, when a version tuned for the Ionian dialect (known as the "Euclidean alphabet" after the archon who championed it) ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
9 votes
Accepted

What sound or letter does this Ogham letter represent?

It says Portlaoise. The original Ogham alphabet, the ‘core’, was created to represent Common Insular Celtic or Primitive Irish (or some stage in between the two), at which stage there was no /p/ – the ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
8 votes

How unpredictable must vowels be for a writing system to classify as an abjad?

"Abjad", like other labels for writing systems, seems easy to intuitively define but is really difficult to be precise about. Look at examples like Ugaritic, which is pretty clearly an abjad…...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

Why is anekdota written with a "k" in Czech but a "g" in Polish (anegdota)?

It is just a convention. An etymological one, if you want. The pronunciation is of course /gd/. In Proto-Slavic there was a yer between the k and the d or t: kdy < *kъdy. In Czech all these ...
Vladimir F Героям слава's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Why do some Vietnamese words have the tone marking on the last letter?

This is a difference in spelling reform, unrelated to pronunciation or meaning. Both the cases you give here (hóa and hoá) represent /hʷa/ in the sắc tone, and both are written and pronounced the ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Why is the day of the week capitalized only in Germanic languages and not in Romance languages?

The short version is that capitalization standards are actually a very recent invention, compared to when these languages diverged! The idea of capital and lowercase being the two standardized types ...
Draconis's user avatar
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4 votes

Orthography changes in Italian

For starters, there's a nice overview on the Treccani on the Ottocento and on the history of Italian orthography, with good references to the increasing rates of literacy among the middle classes and ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,466
4 votes

Closeness between written words and spoken words over different languages

As far as I know, no signed language has a standard written form in general use, so we can limit the question to the relationship between writing and speech. We then start by eliminating languages ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes

What is the difference between traditional and modern IPA?

The IPA doesn't actually tell you how language sounds are to be transcribed, it tells you what the standard "meaningss" of their symbols are. The letter [ɛ] means "open-mid front ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes
Accepted

How do I draw the Vietnamese ơ and ư characters?

I'm not a language professional, but as a Vietnamese who was born and raised in Vietnam, I was taught to write the vowel letters (u, o, a, e, i, and sometimes, y) first and then following diacritics ...
Nick Vu's user avatar
  • 156
3 votes

Orthographies that use diacritics to mark grammatical tone

In Lingála, the acute accent is used to mark high tone (and less commonly the grave accent for low tone), whether it's lexical or grammatical. For example, acute accents mark the difference between ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
3 votes

Why are there spelling inconsistencies in Spanish and Italian? What is the historical origin of this spelling pattern?

Both Italian and Spanish spelling are very consistent. Italian is very simple. In Italian, C before A, O and U produces a [k] sound but the ch sound before I and E. If you want a [k] sound before I ...
Akshat Goswami's user avatar
2 votes

Was the "a" glyph ever used for ajV in Hittite?

Sturtevant 1933 thought not (page 65, section 52). The only vowel sign to be written twice in successtion is a, as in a-a-an-za 'hot', a-a-an-ni-in-ni-ya-mi-iš 'cousin', a-a-ra 'customary' (?), a-a-...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
1 vote

Were يانيه and یانیه interchangeable in Ottoman Turkish?

From what I know, Ottoman Turkish normally used ی which had the two dots when connected on the left and when connected on both sides, but when connected only on the right (at the end of the word) it ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
1 vote

Why doesn’t a language modernization initiative adopt pure phonetic spelling?

Pure phonetic spelling sounds like a very good idea, until you actually try putting it into practice. Take for example Albania. This country has two main dialects: Gheg and Tosk. These dialects do ...
Dakkaron's user avatar
  • 151

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