Monthly Archives: March 2011

Update: sickness, next scripts, ratings

I have not decided to cease work on Glyph of the Day, I’ve just been down with a really nasty cold.  Posting should resume soon, probably tomorrow or the next day. I am going to launch into the Brahmi-derived languages … Continue reading

Posted in Administration | 1 Comment

Tocharian — 700 AD, N.W. China

In the early part of the 20th century, archeologist Aurel Stein discovered manuscripts in northwestern China in a script that had been lost for centuries, in a language that which completely stunned the linguistic community. The first surprise was that … Continue reading

Posted in Abugida, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | Leave a comment

Naxi Geba — 1200 AD? S. China

Like its sibling (parent?) script, Naxi Dongba, Naxi Geba is highly idiosyncratic and used mostly for religious writings.  Unlike Naxi Dongba, Naxi Geba is a syllabary, but different people used different symbols for the same syllable. This makes it less … Continue reading

Posted in now ceremonial, Rating: 3 "I did not know that", Syllabaries | 2 Comments

Naxi Dongba — 600AD? S. China

Much like Aztec and Mixtec, Naxi Dongba is a highly pictographic communication system.  Like Aztec and Mixtec, it’s almost not a writing system.  If you look at a picture of the writing, it looks more like what we think of … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, now ceremonial, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 3 Comments

Modern Yi — 1974 AD, China

In 1974, the Chinese government decided to make a syllabary for the Yi language, based on the symbols in Classic Yi.  As with the Zhuang in the 1950s, it isn’t clear to me why if it was such a good … Continue reading

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

Taiwanese kana — ~1900 AD, Taiwan

As a result of losing the first Sino-Japanese war, China had to cede Taiwan to Japan in 1895. The Japanese went through phases of let-the-Taiwanese-be-Taiwanese alternating with phases where they tried to assimilate the Taiwanese into Japanese culture. During one … Continue reading

Posted in government-mandated, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Syllabaries | 3 Comments


Many writing systems have a finite set of glyphs; you can write down a complete list and there are no others, except for the rare invention of new characters. But some writing systems have an open-ended set of glyphs; no … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | Leave a comment

Tangut — 1036, China

Like King Sejong did four hundred years later with Korean, Emperor Li Yuanhao of the Tangut told one of his advisors to make him a new writing system.  Yeli Renrong did, and quickly.  Yuanhao must have been more forceful than … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | Leave a comment

Classic Yi — 700? 1485? AD, China

For a very long time, the Yi people used a logographic script to write their language. Their tradition says that it was created by someone named Aki in around 700 AD, but the earliest record is from 1485 AD. Mostly … Continue reading

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

Zetian characters — 690 AD, China

There was one female ruler of China, Wu Zetian, who, among other things, mandated use of around twenty new characters.  (These characters were presented to her by a junior relative, Zong Qinke, but she went along with it.) She took … Continue reading

Posted in government-mandated, inventor known, Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", significant female influence | 2 Comments