Category Archives: Syllabaries

Katakana — ~800 AD, Japan

Like Hiragana, Katakana is a syllabary used in Japan.  While Hiragana is used for “Japanese-y”/non-Chinese type things — Japanese words, declensions, inflections, and pronunciation, Katakana is used mostly for transcribing foreign words and/or words with a foreign origin.  (This is … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Syllabaries | 6 Comments

Hiragana — ~800 AD, Japan

It was easier to write Japanese with Manyogana than with exclusively Chinese logograms, but it was still difficult because the same glyph would represent a word in one place and a sound in another. For their next attempt, the Japanese … Continue reading

Posted in previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", significant female influence, Syllabaries | 9 Comments

Manyogana — 450 AD, Japan

China was culturally very dominant in East Asia, and so educated people in Japan learned the Chinese script when writing first came to Japan.  Eventually, Japanese people wanted to write in Japanese, but unfortunately, the Chinese script was not well … Continue reading

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Jurchen Scripts — 1119 AD and 1138 AD, Northeast China

The Khitan (AKA Liao) Empire was in charge in Manchuria (northeastern China) for a while, and the local Jurchen people used the Khitan script and Chinese script for their writing.  They rebelled and overthrew their Khitan overlords in 1115, and … Continue reading

Posted in inventor known, Logograms, National pride, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 1 Comment

Khitan scripts — 920 AD and 925 AD, Mongolia

Emperor Taizu of the Khitan (AKA Liao) people introduced a script in 920 AD for his nomadic Mongolian nation. They had been using Chinese script, but the Chinese script was  a poor fit for the Khitan language.  Spoken Khitan had … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, inventor known, language unknown, Logograms, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries, Undeciphered | 1 Comment

Meroitic — 150 BC, Sudan

The two Meroitic scripts (one from the hieroglyphic, one from the Demotic) seem like the bastard love children of Egyptian and Old Persian, and Old Persian was a bit of a bastard love-child itself. The two scripts have a one-to-one … Continue reading

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

Cree — ~1840 AD, Canada

Missionary James Evans developed a romanization for the Ojibwe language in around 1830 AD, but found that Ojibwe students had difficulty switching between the two very different mappings of Latin characters to pronunciation.  Inspired by the stunning success of Cherokee … Continue reading

Posted in Abugida, inventor known, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 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

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

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Old Persian cuneiform — 525 BC?, Iran

The earliest Old Persian cuneiform we know of is in a stupid-huge trilingual inscription in Old Persian, Elamite cuneiform, and Babylonian cuneiform (basically well-aged Akkadian cuneiform).  The inscription, at Behistun, Iran, is 15m by 25m, 100m up the side of … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 2 Comments