Monthly Archives: February 2011

Shorthands — <300 BC, Greece?

Shorthands — forms of writing that sacrifices accuracy and/or shared orthography for speed — are very old.  The earliest example of shorthand comes from Greece, and was sort of an inverse abugida: the vowels were primary, and consonants were noted … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Abugida, Alphabet, inventor known, Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 3 Comments

Cherokee — 1819 AD, USA

The development and adoption of Cherokee are two hugely impressive accomplishments.  Chief Sequoyah, who was illiterate himself, single-handedly created a script for his language, and within eleven years, 90% of Cherokee were literate in their language.  Stop and marvel about … Continue reading

Posted in developed by illiterate(s), inventor known, National pride, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 4 Comments

Ge’ez — 400 BC, Ethiopia

Ge’ez, aslo called Ethiopic, is the only Old World abugida outside of Southest Asia and the only abugida that is not clearly derived from Brahmi.  (Aside from Kharosthi, of course, which maybe spawned Brahmi.) However, it took a long time … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Abugida, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!" | Leave a comment

Brahmi — 400 BC, India

Brahmi is sort of the Phoenician of East Asia: almost all the non-logographic scripts in East Asia come from Brahmi, including almost all of the scripts used in India, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos.  Brahmi was a … Continue reading

Posted in Abugida, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!" | 12 Comments

Kharosthi — 350 BC, Pakistan

The Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered huge tracts of Asia in around 500 BC, and held it until about 330 BC.  They spread the use of their official language, Aramaic, and with it the Aramaic writing system.  Near the end of … Continue reading

Posted in Abugida, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 2 Comments

South Arabian — 800 BC, Yemen

Proto-Sinaitic split into two branches: a northern one which spawned almost all the writing systems of the modern world, and a southern one that did not.  Perhaps it is fairer to say that one branch of the script went to … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Evolved slowly from parent, Rating: 3 "I did not know that" | Leave a comment

Paleohispanic scripts — 450 BC, Spain

One of the places the Phoenicians colonized was the Mediterranean side of Spain, and their writing system spread around that peninsula.  Like in Italy, there were quite a few different, mostly related scripts.  Unlike in Italy, there wasn’t a hugely … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Syllabaries | Leave a comment

Tifinagh — 400 BC, Tunisia or Libya

Nobody is quite sure where the Berber script, used by the nomads of Northern Africa, came from.  English sources are pretty certain that Tifinagh evolved from the Phoenician script that settlers brought with them when they founded Carthage in about … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!" | 1 Comment

Administration: pub time, comments

Two administrative things: #1: I have changed the time I schedule posts to automatically publish from 00:01 to 20:30.  I discovered that I was trying to wait up until the pub time in order to announce the publication on Facebook, … Continue reading

Posted in Administration | 1 Comment

Samaritan — ~600 BC, Israel

There is a joke among linguists about the difference between a dialect and a language: “a language is a dialect with a standing army”. Similarly, I think that the distinction between the first alphabet used to write Hebrew — what … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!" | Leave a comment