Category: Writing Systems

Was Homer being transcribed when written vowels were invented for the Greek alphabet?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Writing Systems

Nestor’s Cup is one of the earliest inscriptions in Greek, and it’s got a metrical inscription that may allude to the Iliad: So it’s feasible that Homer started being transcribed as soon as vowels were introduced—which pretty much was as soon as the alphabet was adopted in Greek. (We have no evidence of Greek using […]

What is the last letter in the Coptic alphabet?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

On seeing this question, I thought, “Huh? Why is this not a question for Wikipedia?” And then I looked at Wikipedia—English and German and French; and I realised that it’s not as trivial a question as you might think. The last three letters of the Coptic alphabet listed on Wikipedia (all three languages) are Ϭ, […]

Would a universal language be symbolic?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Artificial Languages, Writing Systems

There have been a few proposals for symbolic universal language, most of them taking their inspiration from Chinese ideographic systems. Pasigraphy was at the start of the universal language movement: they were akin to universal thesauruses in symbolic form. Rather naive in retrospect. Blissymbols was probably the most thorough recent effort, and it has found […]

Why does the Greek “αγγε” transliterate to “ange” and not “agge” in English?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-12 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, English, Linguistics, Writing Systems

Ah, a Modern Greek perspective in the question details. I answered the corresponding Ancient Greek question at Nick Nicholas’ answer to Why has the word συγγεής two γ? I know it comes from σύν + γεν, and that later the ν disappeared, but why putting two γ? And why has the ν disappeared at the […]

Will we ever decode Linear A or Cretan Hieroglyphs?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-08 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Writing Systems

We can actually read Eteocretan language, because it’s in Greek characters; and we even have enough bilingual text that we know the Eteocretan for ‘cheese’. And we still can’t make head or tail of it. A lot of Linear A and Linear B characters are shared, which means we can guess at the pronunciation of […]

In English, why does the letter “υ” from Greek loanwords appear in some words as letter “Y,” but as “U” in other words?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-06 | Comments: 1 Comment
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics, Writing Systems

The rule really is y, not u, for Greek upsilon. That really *really* surprised me. I went to the OED, and it didn’t tell me much: Etymology: First formed as French glucose (Dumas 1838, in Compt. Rend. VII. 109); compare Greek γλυκύς sweet and -ose suffix. The English Wikipedia didn’t tell me much more. But […]

What do you think about ignoring other language’s diacritics, umlauts etc.?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-01 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Writing Systems

I’ve just written an answer about Pāṇini. I know what a macron is, and I know what a retroflex nasal is. I also know that the Sanskrit grammarian is not to be confused with an Italian sandwich. Nevertheless, in my answer I referred to him as Panini. And I do not feel guilty for doing […]

How did the Greeks represent fractions?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-29 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Writing Systems

Ptolemy, at least, expressed them somewhat clumsily, by adding reciprocals. There were dedicated symbols for half: [math]unicode{x10175}, unicode{x10176}[/math], two thirds: [math]unicode{x10177}[/math], and three quarters: [math]unicode{x10178}.[/math] Outside of those, fractions were expressed by using double prime for reciprocals, ″. So Ptolemy used ιβ″ = 1/12 a lot for geographical coordinates; and he would also use expressions […]

Why do most modern Persian books and sites use the Naskh font instead of the traditional Nastaʿlīq font?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-29 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

Khateeb, I have no idea, but I can surmise based on: The Death of the Urdu Script – ali eteraz – Medium Nastaʿlīq script – Wikipedia If your technology is handwriting, it doesn’t particularly matter whether your writing is vertical or horizontal, or a mix of both. If you’re writing online in 2017, and you […]

What are the unusual punctuation marks in your language?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Writing Systems

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_language Survey question, and I’m looking forward to someone bringing up the Amharic sarcasm mark. Greek punctuation functionally corresponds to English punctuation—mostly. Upper dot <·> corresponds to semicolon. In Ancient Greek typography, the upper dot is usually also used in the function of the English colon. Modern Greek typography uses the colon. Ancient punctuation had […]

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