55

It is because of the typewriter. A Swiss typewriter needs to support three languages: German, French, and Italian. Therefore on the Swiss typewriter, there was no ß key. It also has only lowercase umlauts ä, ö, and ü. A picture of a Swiss typewriter can be seen here. The lack of that key has led to a subsequent deprecation of the ß overall.


29

The Swiss government has an explanation on p. 18. One contributing factor is typography, namely the rise of use of the Antiqua font, which was claimed to not include ß. I have no evaluation of the truthiness of that claim, for the relevant historical period, i.e. prior to 1901. It is certainly the case that its shape in Antique was not uniform. The rules ...


29

From the source: Full writing-systems appear to have been invented independently at least four times in human history: first in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) where cuneiform was used between 3400 and 3300 BC, and shortly afterwards in Egypt at around 3200 BC. By 1300 BC we have evidence of a fully operational writing system in late Shang-dynasty China. ...


27

It’s worth pointing out that uppercase and lowercase characters are mostly a quirk of the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets.[1] While these alphabets probably make up a plurality of written texts,[2] many languages especially in Asia do not use these, and thus have no such uppercase/lowercase distinction. Second, some languages may use symbols that ...


24

Really lots of languages have experienced a change from Arabic writing (right to left) to either Latin or Cyrillic writing (left to right) during the 20th century. Notable examples are Turkish, Azeri, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Haussa. Mongolian switched from vertical Mongolic writing to left to right Cyrillic at the same time.


24

This is the predecessor to the modern umlaut: a small letter "e" written above a vowel. The name looks like "Schankär" to me. If you want to represent this very literally in Unicode, the codepoint is U+0364, "Combining Latin Small Letter E". But most people just normalize it to the easily-recognizable two dots.


20

Problem 1. Identify the language I found this diagram (in Russian). It seems to be pretty simple, and it amazingly covers a vast majority of world's languages. I took my liberty to adjust it slightly. Note: this diagram does not pretend to be scientific at all. Its only goal is to let a beginner to quickly identify the script and, possibly, a language. ...


20

Chinese is classically written top-to-bottom from right to left, e.g., 9 5 1 10 6 2 11 7 3 12 8 4 but it is becoming increasingly common to also see it written left-to-right from top to bottom, e.g., 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Also, Vietnamese was originally written with Chinese-based characters (the Chữ-nôm (𡨸喃)), but has since switched to a ...


20

Probably the oldest example — being one of the oldest known examples of writing to begin with — is Sumerian cuneiform writing. Like Chinese, Sumerian cuneiform was originally written in vertical columns from top down and right to left, but sometime around 2000 BCE the writing rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise and began to be written in horizontal lines ...


19

the problem is a bit in the framing of your question: "Why was korea able to remove kanji but japan wasn't when both languages use homophones?". i see two problems with this. firstly, all human language have homophones to a greater or lesser degree. it is true that Chinese and especially Japanese are somewhat internationally renowned for having big numbers ...


14

The formal description has been already given in the excellent @ColinFine's answer. Let me give a different description in "layman terms". Mongolian characters usually have four distinct forms: isolate, initial, medial, and final. Vowels A and E have exactly the same glyphs in their final form. Here are the four forms for A and E, correspondingly. Note, ...


13

I think you're combining three questions. 1. Can you learn to speak fluently without speaking? The answer to this is obviously NO. You need to practice what you want to do. You can learn to read fluently without being able to speak very well (I've taught courses doing that), although you need to learn some sort of subvocalisation. But obviously there are ...


13

Corrections and additions to your list Korean does use spaces. Lao and Burmese (Myanmar) don't use spaces. Vietnamese uses spaces between syllables instead of between words (except some few recent loanwords). Tibetan and Dzongkha use other marks to separate syllables rather than words and don't use spaces in the way that English or other languages use them. ...


13

@prash is right, that is Malayalam, and the text is upside down, it reads "mādhavi", മാധവി, which is most likely a female name.


13

I will answer from a different point of view. I will not care if it happened here at 3500 BC while at the other place at 1500 BC and consider it, as in your question, both as almost at the same time relative to the long history of Homo sapiens sapiens or even the long history of agriculture and larger settlements (Jericho 10000 BC). People did not need make ...


12

The answer to this question is fairly straightforward along the lines of historical developments and cultural influences and goes pretty much along the lines offered by jamesqf's answer. However, a much more illuminating answer would focus on the problematic nature of the assumptions behind the question. First, Europe and South East Asia are not ...


12

In one sense, every language is serializable: record someone speaking or signing it, then encode that video into whatever format you like, and now it's been turned into a string of bits. But that's not a very interesting answer. According to many theories, all spoken languages are fundamentally linear: they're made up of a linear sequence of phonemes, one ...


12

@Caimarvon and @Draconis made simple work of what's an absolute mystery to people like my family and I, who are only amateur linguists in the same way that pushing an apple onto a stick could be thought a wheel. Their insight led me to Diacritics for medieval studies by Marc Wilhelm Küster and Isabel Wojtovicz, which explained the Combining Latin Small ...


11

Have you already looked at the upenn dictionary? It is at http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd1/nepsd-frame.html It uses graphics instead of Unicode I think. You can send an email to Steve Tinney and ask if there is something else that might meet your needs better.


11

Edit to clarify that I used the full declaration and not only the article 1 The way to answer your question is to have a sample of the same long text translated in many languages. The only example I know is the universal declaration of human right, which has 380 reasonably complete translations hosted at http://www.unicode.org/udhr/. Then one just has to ...


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 ...


11

As noted by Draconis, this is not a Sumerian but an Akkadian word, specifically a form of the verb banû, "to build". Specifically, I would analyze it as the G-durative (for the D-stem, the 2nd person prefix should be tu- instead of ta-) with a subjunctive marker -u- and an enclitic second person feminine object pronoun -ši,1 i.e. as tabanni+u+ši → ...


10

Aristophanes (Knights 21–26), much earlier than the Philogelos, punned on repeating molōmen auto, molōmen auto "let us go, that" ending up sounding like the taboo automolōmen "let us desert". Remember, Aristophanes in Frogs mocks Euripides for adopting new-fangled notions from the sophists, like "word". As Willi's monograph on Aristophanes' language points ...


10

It's possible, but actual ambiguity is rare—because character casing generally doesn't correspond to any property of the spoken language, and languages are spoken more often than they're written. (A famous exception to this maxim, noted by arp in the comments, is polish versus Polish. The capitalization there does reflect a difference in pronunciation, due ...


10

In addition to what Vladimir said: Complex societies could only emerge when agricultural techniques were advanced enough to produce a surplus which could sustain a larger number of craftsmen, tradesmen and, tongue-in-cheek, unproductive managers like nobility and priests. This surplus enabled the emergence of cities and palaces: Places that housed large ...


9

I'm sorry that I can't upvote your comment yet, but I did just join the site in order to reply. While you might not find it in any formal prescriptive English grammar book as yet, there's plenty of evidence that emoticons are functioning in exactly the same way that canonical, traditional punctuation does: namely, they're pragmatic or discourse marks. ...


9

It's a Buddhist mantra Om mani padme hum in Sanskrit written in the Tibetan script.


9

Take a look at John Chadwick's The Decipherment of Linear B. It does include some relevant theory -- I've used it as a text in an elementary linguistics course.


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