Category Archives: Rating: 5 “Whoa!!”

Latin Carolingian Reforms — ~782 AD, Germany

Emperor Charlemagne apparently tried to learn how to read and write, but with poor success.  Probably part of his difficulty was that he had to spend a bunch of time conquering countries, part of the difficulty was that he started … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, government-mandated, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | Leave a comment

Gyaru-moji — 2000 AD?, Japan

Gyaru-moji is sort of like a Japanese Leet: a variant orthography for Japanese.  Unlike Leet, which was developed in the predominantly male hacker culture, Gyaru-moju (which means “girl characters”) appears to have been developed by schoolgirls.  In both cases, by … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, private or secret, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", significant female influence, Syllabaries | Leave a comment

Syloti Nagari — 1550? AD, Bangladesh

Syloti Nagari, also called Sylheti Nagari, was used in northeastern India from around 1550 AD until the 1970s.  The region where it was used — the Sylhet region of Bangladesh — has been Muslim for a very long time, which … Continue reading

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

Oriya — 1100 AD, India

Oriya probably descended from Bengali, though some say Kalinga (a script so obscure I can’t find out much about it, and which unfortunately shares a name with a language spoken in the Phillipines). Oriya looks quite different from the other … Continue reading

Posted in Abugida, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", technology influenced | 4 Comments

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 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


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!!" | 1 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

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

Nushu — 1300 AD?, China

While Hiragana and Hangul were considered “women’s scripts”, nobody actively prevented the men from using the script as well, and eventually the men came around.  However, in China, women were actively prevented from learning Chinese script, so they went underground … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, private or secret, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", significant female influence, Syllabaries | 2 Comments