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What language do you think has the most beautiful alphabet?
Getting back to this:
"When some do claim here, that they find Runes for instance rather not appealing"
That would have been me (hallo, Herr Stötzner!). Yes, I found it difficult to think of an alphabet that wouldn't appeal very much to me personally, on a purely aesthetic level; the Futhark seemed to best fit the bill. I don't find it "ugly" per se, but less aesthetically/formally enticing than others.
Now on the level of execution, you certainly have a point when you say that "the script hardly reached a matured state of classicism" – of course its "pre-classical" (?) state explains some formal features that don't seem very "aesthetic" today (at least to me), like somewhat unbalanced proportions / shapes along with a usually rather crude execution.
But to be honest, when I made that statement, I was trying to look past the execution, at the actual structural vocabulary of the lettershapes – and that's I guess where it really comes down to personal preference (I'm personally not a huge fan of diagonal and spikey lettershapes, especially not when they dominate a script).* That sounds shallow, as well it is – but then this thread started out being just that. :->
And of course it doesn't mean that if I was in Scandinavia, running across some ancient Runic inscriptions, I wouldn't gasp with joy.
* I suspect it might also have something to do with the way the individual lettershapes are combined into a system, but I can't do a full Futhark analysis at the moment as I'm down with the flu & my brain is not being very cooperative.
Great discussion. I really like Satya's Bangla from a purely aesthetic point of view... I have no idea how it works in practice. My second vote – if only for the weirdness of its' conception – would be for Enochian. Seems to combine Elvish, Klingon and maybe even Cherokee.
Persian Shekasteh and Persian Nastaliq
Kind of a ridiculous thread, when you consider that in the hands of any competent letterist/calligrapher/artist, just about any written language can be beautiful.
And the reverse is also true.
I think writing in general is just a beautiful thing.
Nah, some scripts are just dog-ugly no matter how hard you try.
I don't know about alphabets, but the scripts with the greatest tradition of calligraphy are Arabic and Chinese.
Because the brush is a more sensitive instrument than the pen, the expressive power of Chinese writing is arguably on the top. Even today in China there are exhibitions in museums of scrolls with calligraphy only, and it is often prized even more than pictorial painting with the brush, and calligraphy-only scrolls are bought and hung on walls as paintings would be.
Even with Arabic, which is the only rival, I don't think you quite have that phenomenon, though I'm not familiar enough with Arab countries to know.
> Because the brush is a more sensitive instrument than the pen
Ah, but an even more sensitive instrument -by some
orders of magnitude- is the human mind coupled to a
means of making outlines! It is so sensitive, that it
scares most people from trying to truly grasp it.
Persian has very diffrent fonts, but one of the best ones is : "shekaste-nastaliq".
: see : http://alijsh.googlepages.com/shekste_nastaliq.jpg
@ When Turkish was written with Arabic script, it was close to incomprehensible, because of the crucial vowel harmony that just could not be properly expressed.
No doubt, Mostafa Atatork + Khir Johari were from Norway!
Tracing the Origins
"Ah, but an even more sensitive instrument [...] - is the human mind coupled to a means of making outlines! It is so sensitive, that it scares most people from trying to truly grasp it."
I hear you, but I don't you think that the line is so insensitive, i.e. compared to the traditional UI to "drawing", that it scares most people from trying to truly grasp it? Most of those who overcome their fear, fail after all, from lack of "touch" between the workings of the hand drawing the line, and the markings of the machines interpreting those lines...
>Most of those who overcome their fear, fail after all, from lack of “touch” between the workings of the hand drawing the line, and the markings of the machines interpreting those lines...
That is intriguing. Could you clarify what that "touch" is with some examples of success and failure in achieving it?
Vietnamese has been mentioned here, but some of the comments seem a little unjust to me. It does look like the measles, it's true, but the Vietnamese have learnt to write it with the same beauty and care that they once bestowed on Chu Nom. I've been trying to find out more about Vietnamese calligraphy in Quoc Ngu, but I've not been able to find a single book on the subject (not one at SOAS library in London!), or even any high res examples. Can anybody help? If I just append some links below, you might end up agreeing with me that the world's most beautiful alphabet is that of Vietnamese!
for example, or just Google Image "thu phap" (calligraphy), and there are just some wonderful results.
Turkish calligraphy has shown some similar developments - compare Emin Barın's awe-inspiring creations inspired by Ottoman forms and methods, but using modern Turkish letters.
Just Linking with Flowers
Only if done by a lovely hand model :-)
I think I may have a trump:
If you make it to the end, her mother raises an absolutely fascinating research question:
Does teaching sign language to children inhibit their verbal language acquisition?
"Does teaching sign language to children inhibit their verbal language acquisition?"
I wouldn't think so. The same regions of the brain are involved with sign language as in verbal language, and so it should be no different than a child learning two spoken languages simultaneously.
Malayalam, Tibetan, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Georgian are all beautiful in their own ways.
Despite our own Latin script having the upper-case and lower-case dichotomy to cope with, however, many very beautiful typefaces have been made for it. Thus, it may well be possible to make a beautiful typeface for the ancient Semitic (i.e. Phoenician) alphabet, even though it looks unprepossessing in the usual representation, made to resemble the way it looks in actual inscriptions.
The Tibetan writing system involves some quite complicated rules that seem bizarre to us, because they can lead to significant changes in the value of some consonants, but Tibetan follows its rules, which gives it an advantage over English.
letters in any particular type of alphabet or script are more like general concepts of shapes than specific shapes carved in stone or drawn on a page. It seems to me that whether it is beautiful or not depends on how a particular example of an alphabet is designed and rendered more than anything else, so I kind of don't get the question.
My son is autistic and had no language ability until he was 4 years old. Just before that, we began to teach him a few signs. Somehow, the digital manipulation in signing made a connection to verbal areas of the brain. He began to speak and signing was a big help--if not the cause or catalyst that bridged the divide for him.
Russell, you don't think there can be beauty in structures and concepts?
Of course, but I believe it's there in every scrip and alphabet — In the abstract.
What makes it visually appealing (or or otherwise ) is as far as I can see, a quality that a designer or calligrapher brings to it.
Concerning Hrant's post about Tibetan:
I was looking on YouTube for any examples of Malayalam music where the name of the video was in Malayalam. But it seemed like in all cases, the videos were in English. (Of course, unlike Malayalam, English is an official language in India, and it is the one widely used in Kerala, the home of Malayalam, since Malalam is a Dravidian language, and thus not closely related to Hindi.)
The only videos I found with Malayalam titles at first seemed to be someone's baby pictures, but I suspect they were of children available for adoption.
As for Tibetan specifically, while the Chinese are preserving it in some ways, the economic and educational dominance of Mandarin is still a threat to the long-term survival of the Tibetan language.