Lacking ascenders?

joshua.erickson's picture

An acquaintance and I were recently discussing language reform (Pitman, Deseret, Shavian, Quickscript, etc.) He told me that the lack of ascenders and descenders alone is enough to damn any writing system to failure. But aren't there examples of existing (or once existing) writing systems that disprove this notion. For example, Chinese seems to lack these features (ascenders and descenders).

(I have no idea what this says by the way.) Are there other writing systems that anyone else can name?

jasonc's picture

I think for this discussion you need to differentiate between alphabetic writing systems (e.g., Latin) and logographic (chinese) writing systems.
See this page:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/definition.htm

or the book "The world's Writing Systems", by Daniels and Bright.

Ken Messenger's picture

I don't think a lack of ascenders/descenders has anything to do with the success of a writing system. The latin alphabet started out as all majuscules and lived through textura, seems to be doing OK.

Carolingian miniscules may have given it a kick in the pants but mostly that was just to expedite handwriting.

Si_Daniels's picture

>He told me that the lack of ascenders and descenders alone is enough to damn any writing system to failure.

LOL! But writing systems like Elvish are roaring successes ;-)

joshua.erickson's picture

Elvish (Tolkien's Tengwar) has ascenders and descenders.

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