"greek alphabet"

gtrianta's picture

The "greek alphabet" exhibition has taken place with success during the seven days of the 3rd International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication in Thessaloniki between the 18th and the 23rd of June.

Visit http://ea.backpacker.gr to see a small sample of each submission, photos from the exhibition venue and the two selected submissions.

I would like to thank once more everyone who helped organize and run the event and everyone who participated.

dezcom's picture

Thanks George! I wish I could have been there to see the conference and the exhibit.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

Nice stuff!
I like the ones by Albertoni and Hornus the most.

Two things:
1) Would you say that Greek "natives"
are less interested in making text fonts?
2) Why were the new MS fonts not included
among the "out of competition" selections?

BTW, when Michail Semoglou's text is
published in English please let us know!

hhp

gtrianta's picture

1) I don't think it's due to a lack of interest but a lack of formal training.
2) The MS - out of competition typefaces that were left out are the well-known Candara, Cambria, Calibri, Constantia, Corbel and Segoe. I have just added the not so well-known ones, namely Segoe Script and Segoe Print (MS), Convection (MS) and New Johnston (Monotype Imaging).

I will inform you when Michail's text is translated.
Thank you for the comments and remarks.

George Triantafyllakos - backpacker.gr

gtrianta's picture

Also, allow me to say that, besides Alice Savoie's work, the most appreciated submissions were the ones of Veronica Burian and Jeremie Hornus. And, in the end it was a close call between Alice and Veronica.

So, congratulations to Veronica and Jeremie as well :-)

George Triantafyllakos - backpacker.gr

Si_Daniels's picture

George, glad to see this go live and happy we were able to participate.

As for Greek native speakers and text faces, I suppose this is no different than elsewhere, where display fonts are more popular. Added to this, any serious text Greek face would need to have Latin, making it even more work. Maybe.

Si_Daniels's picture

Oh, and you should fix the typo on Erik's name before he notices. ;-)

gtrianta's picture

Oops :-/
Thanks for that ...

George Triantafyllakos - backpacker.gr

hrant's picture

> any serious text Greek face would need to have Latin

It depends on how you define "serious"...

Plus when you think about how Latin and Greek typically need to harmonize, all you might need to do is match the color (and maybe the apparent size) of some existing Latin text face and you'd pretty much be there without the effort of making your own Latin.

hhp

HaleyFiege's picture

I watch -a lot- of Greek tv because my boyfriends parents don't speak english (any Spiro Papadopoulo fans in the house?!) and there are a lot of latin characters used - especially in news programs. I think there should probably be matching latin characters in a font meant for high use.

hrant's picture

Certainly Latin is the lingua franca of writing systems*, and it's useful to support it as much as possible. But the extent to which non-Latin fonts are made to "harmonize" with (more like "enslaved to") Latin is uncalled for, and in fact generally dysfunctional. When we think of "matching", let's not mean a full replication of formal features, like stroke terminals, vertical proportions, etc. Let's instead start from a lucid evaluation of how readers actually use multi-script documents, and try to see which letterform macro and micro features actually help foster a real, deep harmony, and which in fact consititute a formulaic, shallow, rote transplantation.

* Until Chinese takes over...

hhp

hrant's picture

However, if you really want to do it right, and effort is no obstacle,
you make a multilateral system: a master font in each script, each
with a subordinate font in the other script.

http://www.themicrofoundry.com/ss_rome2.html

hhp

John Hudson's picture

It's a pity the submissions didn't have to include a lowercase delta. In my experience, that is the most difficult Greek letter to get right.

[George, I submitted a new design using the online submission form, but I presume you never got it, since it didn't show up in the exhibition.]

gtrianta's picture

I am sorry about that. Gerry Leonidas told me about that during the conference and I told him that I never received it. My apologies.

George Triantafyllakos - backpacker.gr

dezcom's picture

I see that I mistakenly sent the entry with the wrong gamma, I had made a better one but oh, well.

ChrisL

hrant's picture

John, maybe they didn't want to make submitting something too hard?
Shame about your entry though. Hey, what about posting it here?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I'm doing some revisions to the spacing at the moment, but yes, I'll make a PDF available when I'm done. The font will be available free for non-commercial use from the Society of Biblical Literature Font Foundation.

Si_Daniels's picture

Shame the organization isn't the Biblical Literature Unicode Font Foundation, as the conspiracy theorists would love that. ;-)

Jongseong's picture

I would have loved to have been there. If anything it would have alleviated the Greek withdrawal symptoms; I've not seen printed Greek in forever, with most of my Greece-related stuff gathering dust at my parents' place in China...

John, I can't find it now, but I remember seeing a sample of an early version of your SBL Greek somewhere, and it was really beautiful. I'm certainly looking forward to the release. You can probably find traces of some of its features in my own attempt at Greek, Naxia, still in its earliest stages. (The influence is clearer in the italic, though you'll have to take my word for it as it is not quite ready to be presented yet...)

I too am disappointed in the shortage of entries by Greek designers, especially in the text face category. Still, I expect good things to come out of the infusion of new ideas by the latest generation of Greek type designers studying abroad. I also hope that it becomes easier to get formal training for type design in Greece so that budding type designers are not all forced to go abroad to learn their trade.

Hrant: * Until Chinese takes over [as the lingua franca of writing systems]...

That would be a dark, bleak future, not least for type designers.

hrant's picture

Dark, bleak? Only for those in power now. Not the people I personally
care for. Because they're making the rest of the world dark, bleak.
As for the Latin script: boooooring. Korean for one is so much better.

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

>As for the Latin script: boooooring.

I'd agree the only thing worse than everyone using Simplified Chinese would be everyone using English.

However I think the future looks brighter for minority writing systems thanks to the work of people like SIL, and dare I say it my company. You can't force people not to use English, but give them high-quality tools to create and consume content in their native language out-of-the-box and at least they have that option*.

Cheers, Si

*assuming they have power, an internet connection, or an OLPC ;-)

Jongseong's picture

So we go off topic...

Remember we're talking about scripts, not languages. The Chinese script is only workable for Sinitic languages. At least the boring Latin script, being alphabetic, can readily serve a wide variety of languages. That is one reason for its wide-spread use long after Latin ceased to be spoken widely.

Before the Korean alphabet was invented, being literate in Korea meant having to learn a whole different language, i.e. Classical Chinese. The literate elite were secure in their monopoly of knowledge and control of society due to the many years of schooling necessary to learn Classical Chinese. There is no way to readily adapt the Chinese ideographs to writing any other language. If the Chinese script becomes the lingua franca, it can only mean that the Chinese language itself has become the global tongue.

At least with the current dominance of the Latin script, the individual languages are not threatened. On the contrary, we have examples like the Latinization campaigns in the Soviet Union that were aimed at improving the status of minority languages though the introduction of the Latin script to write them down.

I am all for language and script diversity. A Latin-dominated landscape does not preclude language diversity, but a Chinese-script-dominated one does. That's why I call such a future dark and bleak. All this is not to mention the problem the Chinese have with their own script with the thousands of characters. I'm sorry, but preferring a future dominated by the Chinese script to the status quo is hopelessly naïve.

hrant's picture

> The Chinese script is only workable for Sinitic languages.

Just like I don't think literal Latinization is good, I wouldn't want to see Chinese have an explicit influence on any other script. But it does have under-appreciated and under-used merits that can serve as superb inspiration. One of them is that it's not an alphabet!

> If the Chinese script becomes the lingua franca, it can only mean
> that the Chinese language itself has become the global tongue.

Which it will be. And I see nothing wrong with that (as long as a lingua franca is inevitable). But more importantly, I don't agree with your blindered view. Humans are much more creative than that. In fact AFAIK there are Chinese-derived systems for encoding non-Chinese languages out there already.

I have to start thinking that you have a personal thing against China.

> the problem the Chinese have with their
> own script with the thousands of characters.

Every system has problems. And quite clearly the "problem" with
Chinese isn't great enough to prevent them from taking over...

> preferring a future dominated by the Chinese
> script to the status quo is hopelessly naïve.

I believe in cycles. The current one is sick and dying.
As I've written before: one day we will have to get rid of China too.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I remember when everyone assumed that Japan was going to run the world, that their economy would outstrip the US, and that Japanese would be the lingua franca, so I'm not about to run out and learn Mandarin.

hrant's picture

> I’m not about to run out and learn Mandarin.

No, for us it's too late/early.
But if/when you have kids make sure they learn it real quick like.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant: In fact AFAIK there are Chinese-derived systems for encoding non-Chinese languages out there already.

Do you have any examples? Unless you're talking about Vietnamese or even the Japanese hiragana and katakana scripts, which ultimately derive from the Chinese script, I would be really curious...

I'm not really sure you've thought through the global tongue scenario, if you see nothing wrong with that. English may be considered the global tongue now, but Chinese would have to have a stranglehold on the global population at a level that far surpasses that for the Chinese script to be the global script as well. Since we're assuming that the Latin script to fall off its pedestal, the billions of current English, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers would have to stop writing their native languages and switch to Chinese. Or are you saying that they can somehow find a way to use the Chinese script to write their own vernacular tongues?

The Chinese script has been dominant in East Asia for millennia; it is part of the cultures of Korea and Japan as well as China's. But it has proved restrictive to the use of vernacular languages in writing, which is why Korean and Japanese both developed their own scripts (in the former case, to the enormous protest of the literati who liked their monopoly on literacy). If there was any way the Chinese script could be used to write Korean or Japanese other than through impractical rebus-based systems, it would have been found sometime during the thousands of years of Chinese-script supremacy. When Chinese characters are used for writing Korean or Japanese, it is for writing Chinese loanwords, of which there are many. Extrapolating to languages that have had less contact with Chinese, I can't see how its speakers would start using the Chinese script other than by abandoning their vernacular tongues.

All this just to spite the current dominance of the Latin script? The Chinese script as lingua franca has been tried in the East Asian sphere and found wanting. Apologies if the future talk sounds like regression rather than progress to me.

hrant's picture

So why are Japanese and Nôm not good examples?

BTW Brian, I'm not taking about the next few years, probably not even
the next few decades. Your "can't happen" simply doesn't jibe with what
humanity has done since day one.

> All this just to spite the current dominance of the Latin script?

Sure, whatever it takes to make things less imbalanced.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Chữ nôm is a good example of the Chinese script adapted to a non-Chinese language, along with Zhuang logograms. Hiragana and katakana derive their forms from Chinese characters, but have passed into an entire different genre of writing system, the syllabary. No one considers them Chinese scripts any more than the Greek alphabet is considered a Semitic abjad.

The difference is that Vietnamese and Zhuang, being analytic languages with largely monosyllabic morphemes like Chinese, are more suited to a logographic writing system than the agglutinative Japanese. (As an aside, I think the current practice of using a Latin-based writing system for Vietnamese is rather unwieldy.) Syllabic writing systems, as it turns out, are effective for writing Japanese. The Chinese script simply served as a reference point because that was the only 'true' writing they really knew about.

Korean, on the other hand, has thousands of syllables in use and didn't find a workable solution until the featural alphabet Hangul was developed.

The moral is that each language has different needs that require different script solutions, and a Chinese-style logographic system may very well be the most restrictive and least adaptable one out there, suitable only for a handful of languages in China and Southeast Asia. In fact, the reverence for tradition and resistance to innovation in the world of written Chinese probably contributed to its survival to this age when other logographic systems around the world have been rendered obsolete by phonetic writing.

If anything, if I trust human creativity, I think the Chinese script will move further and further away from its logographic origins to reflect the changes in the Chinese language away from analytic features.

hrant's picture

> I think the current practice of using a Latin-based
> writing system for Vietnamese is rather unwieldy.

That's quite an understatement.
BTW, personally I don't think Latin works well for English.

> a Chinese-style logographic system may very well
> be the most restrictive and least adaptable

It's not so simple. In fact, the unifying* spirit of Chinese (it deftly encodes the numerous languages of China) is exactly what an alphabet sucks at. Alphabets are seriously over-rated, to mythical proportions; and seeing a non-westerner fall for it is frankly quite sad.

* Think world here.

> The moral is that each language has different needs

Amen.

> I think the Chinese script will move further
> and further away from its logographic origins

Sure, but it will still be Chinese.
A script is never really a static, formal thing - not even for an instant.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant: It’s not so simple. In fact, the unifying* spirit of Chinese (it deftly encodes the numerous languages of China) is exactly what an alphabet sucks at.

That's not so simple either, as it is a result of a standardized literary language and spoken languages developing in tandem, and one has to ignore a large degree of diglossia, but let's leave it at that.

If making cognates recognizable is the goal, alphabets work just fine. Many European languages that use the Latin script use near-identical spellings for Greek and Latinate vocabulary, when the pronunciations are quite different. French in particular uses a lot of phantom letters in their spelling to reflect etymological origins (e.g. the g in 'doigt', cognate to 'digit'). I'd be hard pressed to make out a single word when someone is speaking Danish, but I understand a fair bit of written Danish because of its closeness to Norwegian.

But a true unifier would be something like bringing back Latin as the universal literary language in Europe, or Sanskrit in Northern India. Pretending that one can introduce a single unifying script for the different languages of Europe à la Chinese without enforcing a unifying language ignores the far greater diversity in grammatical structures and vocabulary between even the closely related Romance languages. Chinese was helped by strong central government starting with the First Emperor, who standardized writing across China; maybe European political unity can enforce a standardized pan-European literary language?

Hrant: Alphabets are seriously over-rated, to mythical proportions; and to see a non-westerner fall for it is frankly quite sad.

I reiterate, different languages require different script solutions. I am not advocating alphabets as the one-size-fits-all solution. Many nationalistic Koreans talk about the supremacy of the Korean alphabet and even exporting it for writing other languages, so I'm wary of that view.

But I think it's perfectly clear that the majority of the world's languages simply cannot be written with a manageable logographic system the way Chinese can be. Just how would one distinguish between the dozen different ways of describing 'yellow' in Korean, each with a different nuance, in such a system?

노랗다, 노르께하다, 노르끄레하다, 노르무레하다, 노르스름하다, 노릇하다, 노릇노릇하다, 노르톡톡하다, 노리께하다, 노리끄레하다, 노리무레하다, 노릿하다, 노릿노릿하다, 노리톡톡하다, 누렇다, 누리께하다, 누르끄레하다, 누르무레하다, 누르스름하다, 누릇하다, 누릇누릇하다, 누르툭툭하다, 누르칙칙하다, 샛노랗다, 싯누렇다.

I would rather not lose that diversity.

hrant's picture

> Chinese was helped by strong central government

Don't get me started!

> Many nationalistic Koreans talk about
> the supremacy of the Korean alphabet

Just because they're nationalistic doesn't mean they're wrong about every single thing. In fact the Korean script (which is not really an alphabet) is superior to every other one, at least in ways that count most. It makes Latin look like a village idiot. Does that mean Hangul can be used to encode every language ideally? Of course not. Does that mean it can't be improved? Of course it can. But it's still better than what most people have. The problem is that misplaced pride makes people -like that grade-A bigot Morison- adore alphabets, Latin, or whatever else is perceived as having helped them claw their way to the top of the pyramid.

> But I think it’s perfectly clear that the majority of the world’s
> languages simply cannot be written with a manageable
> logographic system the way Chinese can be.

I don't think such a thing is perfectly clear at all.

You want diversity? Step 1: Stop Latin.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant, do you think English can be written with a logographic system of, say, less than 3000 graphemes? I'm trying to understand where you get this idea that such solutions are possible, let alone desirable.

hrant's picture

Do you think the Chinese can't read Chinese?
Or do you think that English readers are dumber?

hhp

Jongseong's picture

I'm confused; where did that come from? My question was whether you thought a logographic system was suitable for the English language. English and Chinese are very different languages.

If, as I contend, English cannot be adequately encoded with logograms, it is because of features inherent in the language like the grammatical structure (although English is becoming less inflective and more analytic) and multiple registers of vocabulary, not because English readers are dumb.

hrant's picture

I think you're looking at writing systems too
rigidly; and you're too worried about English.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

I'm merely using English, a language you and I both know, as an example to gauge your opinion on the workability of logographic systems. The Latin script might not be the best suited for English, but it works, at least. Will a logographic system do? I'm not talking about English readers learning Chinese and writing Chinese scripts, but writing the English language in a logographic writing system.

hrant's picture

Sure it can work. Look at Tibetan: the writing system -as supernaturally
beautiful as it is- is in fact a horrible match to the language, but are they
using it to run their nation or not? Would writing English logographically
be worse than writing it with half as many graphemes as it actually needs?
Maybe, but maybe not. In any case, to me it's not "perfectly clear" at all.

Anyway, I never claimed Chinese is some sort of ideal writing system.
What I claimed is that it's ascending. The rest is all merely a protracted
reaction against your alarmist "That would be a dark, bleak future, not
least for type designers." It sounds like a White House press release.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

So you think writing English logographically is possible, and moreover it's unclear whether that would be better or worse than the current method. That's what I wanted to know. Based on what I know about the English language and logographic writing systems, I thought it was obvious that it is impossible to reflect the English language in a logographic way without resorting to all kinds of non-intuitive markers that only Chomskyites would grasp (but then it would cease to be logographic and become unlike any writing system). Because my own reasoning behind this conclusion seemed so natural and obvious to me, I thought it was clear for everyone else, too, but there I was wrong.

So maybe you thought that Chinese could replace English as the lingua franca (plausible), and because of that influence other languages would start to be written in the Chinese script. That last part is the impossible leap for me.

For me, the only scenario where the Chinese script becomes the lingua franca is where people largely stop writing in non-Chinese languages altogether, using only Chinese for written communication. This far surpasses what any language up to now has done, including English. That sort of scenario where most literature (and any sort of writing) is produced in a single language seems dark and bleak to me. Do you think this will actually happen?

I believe in the Chinese ascendancy. More and more people will learn Chinese as a foreign language, as people are doing in droves in Korea. My father already speaks fluent Chinese, and I'm still learning. Soon the rest of the world will catch up. But please, believing that China will achieve the sort of cultural hegemony to drive out languages like English, Hindi, and Arabic from written use seems far-fetched. That's why I made that initial postscript comment about the "dark, bleak future" jocularly, thinking that you were being similarly mock alarmist with your Chinese-script-as-the-lingua-franca suggestion.

So we were not on the same page after all, and I guess to you I came across as a reactionary against Chinese ascendancy. I don't think I've been accused of sounding like a White House press release before.

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, do you understand Brian's point that languages that conjugate can't be naturally represented in Chinese characters? It is perfectly sound.

By the way, latin script has conquered China. Pin Yin, the romanization of Chinese is used to input Chinese on keyboards, so all young Chinese know the roman alphabet. It is also on road signs. The ease of keyboarding is a decisive advantage of alphabets.

The whole structure of Chinese lends itself to the characters, and not only because it was the key to a unified empire--so that a unified China is ancient, whereas a unified Europe is still an aspiration.

inde's picture

Too bad i missed it.

Krima pou to exasa, kalo omos na vrisko kapion ellhna me endiaferon sta fonts.

hrant's picture

> So maybe you thought that Chinese could replace English as the lingua
> franca (plausible), and because of that influence other languages would
> start to be written in the Chinese script.

The former seems quite likely to me (because paradoxically it's the westerner's conditioning to live materialistically that makes it so easy to purchase his loyalty). The latter is also likely, but in a much more limited scope. In the latter, more likely/widespread, and much more interesting (but yes, dangerous) is the way Chinese will change other writing systems, as Latin has been doing for so long.

> people largely stop writing in non-Chinese languages
> altogether, using only Chinese for written communication.

I'm not seeing that.

> This far surpasses what any language
> up to now has done, including English.

Not really. The Romanization (not "language", script) of the planet is quite pronounced. Just look at Africa, Turkey, some Balkan countries, and even some south-east Asian countries.

> believing that China will achieve the sort of cultural hegemony to
> drive out languages like English, Hindi, and Arabic from written
> use seems far-fetched.

Why has my use of "lingua franca" cause such an extreme interpretation?

> I don’t think I’ve been accused of sounding
> like a White House press release before.

And I've never been accused of demoting diversity before.

> all young Chinese know the roman alphabet.

Soon enough all young Westerners will know Chinese, and Mandarin. This has already started in Africa and South America. What's funny is, you set yourself up for it by making Capitalism your religion. You're available for sale to the highest bidder. The Newest Profession?

hhp

Jongseong's picture

Hrant, are you remembering to distinguish between language and script? The dominance of the Latin script and English as a de facto lingua franca are two separate issues.

I call the Latin script dominant not because it has the greatest number of users (the number of users of the Chinese script may already be greater, I don't know), but because it has been adopted by scores of different languages from different language families, including English. The influence of languages written in the Latin script, such as English, certainly played a great role, but the main thing was that the Latin script, being a phonetic system, proved supremely adaptable.

Such adoptions of scripts are perhaps doomed to be less than optimal most of the time. Latin might not be the optimal solution for Vietnamese, nor the Indic-based Tibetan script (note: another phonetic script) for the Tibetan. But they still produced solutions that worked well enough to stick.

But you won't see the languages switching allegiance to the Chinese script, even if there is all the motivation in the world to do so. Chinese-style scripts cannot be used to naturally write anything other than a relatively small group of languages. If there was any way at all that Korean and Japanese could be adequately written in Chinese, we would have figured it out sometime in the last couple of thousand years when we were firmly in the Chinese cultural sphere and absorbed everything Chinese. Fortunately, human creativity prevailed and we figured out writing systems that were actually capable of writing Korean and Japanese.

Only a very small number of languages at one end of the morphological spectrum lend themselves to being written with logographic writing systems. Most languages cannot simply switch over to being written in Chinese. A latter-day Atatürk who orders his national language to switch to Chinese writing would most likely be unable to find any linguist capable of carrying out the command.

I'm curious where you are getting your ideas about logographic writing systems if you think they can be readily applied to any language. There are certain advantages to using a logographic system, but written English already shares many of these advantages, being not purely phonetic but having many logographic features. Most languages are probably best served by scripts balancing phonetic and logographic features, and arguably written English has evolved to strike a close-to-optimal balance.

hrant's picture

BTW William, your use of "conquered" is quite telling. It echoes the imperialistic jingoism of Morison: "The Roman alphabet is not merely in possession, but it is in possession by right of conquest. The conquest was not made possible, or even expedited, by external authority; the victory of the Roman letter was due to its inherent flexibility and rationalism." That's from his introduction in a book promoting the Latinization of... Hebrew! I'm sure you'd love to see the Torah and your other books Romanized...

> But you won’t see the languages switching allegiance to the Chinese script

I don't share your blinders.

> I’m curious where you are getting your
> ideas about logographic writing systems

While I'm curious where you are getting your emotions about China.
William, I already know.

> English has evolved to strike a close-to-optimal balance.

Pure bunk.

hhp

Jongseong's picture

So how can I make you understand that switching to the Chinese script is not an option for most languages because of an inherent mismatch between the morphologies of the languages and the nature of the script, not because of some cultural preference, politics, or emotions?

The dominance of the Latin script, loosely speaking, is a historical accident, owing to the Roman Empire, ascendancy of Western Europe, and all that. Any reasonable phonetic-based script could have taken its place.

But if we went into a counterfactual history where Chinese culture achieved supremacy the world over--if it were Chinese colonisers instead of Europeans entering Africa, Southeast Asia, and the New World in the last few centuries--the different languages of the world would still not have adopted the Chinese script. Instead, a diglossia would have developed where people would write in Chinese and speak in their vernacular tongues, or more likely the vernacular tongues would be supplanted by Chinese.

At this point, I'm wondering if you are the one driven by your emotions and false hope to seeing a ready alternative to Latin in the Chinese script when there isn't one. The Chinese script is perfectly suitable for the Chinese language (or at least as much as the Latin is for English), but expecting it to work for languages that don't share the features of Chinese betrays an ignorance of how a logographic writing system works.

hrant's picture

> So how can I make you understand ...

Maybe by subjecting me to your anti-Chinese upbringing?

Holding up English as a positive model... Puhleez.

> I’m wondering if you are the one driven by your emotions

Of course I am. The difference is, I admit it.

> betrays an ignorance of how a logographic writing system works.

No, I think you're betraying stunted imagination and creativity.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

When Hrant goes into his irrelevant nasty invective, I'm out.

Jongseong's picture

The Chinese script and the Latin script for English are mere examples chosen for convenience. I would use other logographic systems as examples, but both Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs include phonetic elements.

Let's take for simplicity's sake only those Egyptian hieroglyphs that function as logograms. Do you think you could write Armenian with them? No, you couldn't. Could you write Ancient Egyptian with the Armenian script? Yes, you could, once you worked out some kinks. Would you agree, or am I betraying stunted imagination and creativity?

So my pointing out the limitations of the Chinese script for something it was never meant to be used for--writing languages other than Chinese--amounts to subjecting you to my supposed anti-Chinese upbringing? You're trying to make this look like a clash between those appealing to emotions, when I'm only trying to point out what I thought was a well-understood feature of the Chinese script.

So I can only conclude that I have been taking my familiarity with the Chinese script for granted, and others may not understand the most basic feature of the script to the point of harbouring illusions about it being portable across languages the way phonetic scripts can. Have you studied Chinese? That would help immensely in understanding what I'm talking about.

John Hudson's picture

Brian: Only a very small number of languages at one end of the morphological spectrum lend themselves to being written with logographic writing systems.

This is the crux of the matter, and it is what Hrant is obviously unable to see or understand, either because he simply doesn't know enough about linguistics or because he is blinded by the fact that he is arguing with a dead man (Stanley Morison) and not genuinely engaged in a conversation with the people on this forum. Or both.

hrant's picture

Of course I know how Chinese works. It's not too complicated.
What's complicated is predicting ways it might be adapted.

"Never meant to be used for"? What a strange concept.
Latin was never meant to be used for English. And it shows!

Ah, John is here! Our own personal Morison. The one would loves
seeing every other script reformed up the wazoo, just never ever
his precious Latin.

hhp

paul d hunt's picture

Of course I know how Chinese works. It’s not too complicated.

and that's not hubris, hrant? *jab*

i don't mind the trowing of punches here, but please keep it above the belt.

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, what I'm usually accused of, including by you, is being too conservative in my respect for the traditional forms of the scripts I work with. The only case I can think of in which you might think me in favour of script reform is Cyrillic. But I have not advocated that Cyrillic should be reformed, only acknowledged the reality that it was reformed, 300 years ago, and that the linguistic and cultural heritage of that 300 year period makes the pre-Petrine forms inappropriate to modern texts.

Of course I know how Chinese works. It’s not too complicated.

Oh good, because I don't really understand it because I don't know enough about Chinese linguistics, which is why I have found Brian's comments to be helpful. But if you understand it, please explain it to me, and explain also the reasons why you disagree with Brian's analysis that the logographic writing system only works well for a narrow range of languages with particular morphologogical structures (of course, you will need to explain what those morphological structures are and why different morphologies are not a barrier to adapted use of a logographic writing system). Simply repeating that you disagree with Brian isn't advancing the discussion, especially not when he is displaying remarkable patience and taking the time to compose carefully reasoned arguments and you are responding with one-liners, irrelevancies and insults.

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