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Fixing written languages

I've spent most of the day fixing two of my written languages for Traipahni languages, Ahndahn's Alphabet and Dven'bahniss. For Dven'bahniss, a lot of it was getting rid of the capitalized characters, which doubled the number of characters. And Ahndahn's Alphabet had a couple instances of more than one character for the same sound. Both of these written languages are syllabaries, meaning each character represents a specific sound. Duplicates might be useful, but I prefer tidiness in these two. I'll use duplicates when I make the third, combined written tongue. (I'm making a combined version because some characters in Ahndahn's Alphabet just look nicer.)

The main reason, though, for this project was to give the characters names, and to tidy up the character lists. This had the side benefit of making it so I now know how many characters are in each language. Ahndahn's Alphabet has 52 characters (48 are sounds, the other 4 are punctuation). Dven'bahniss has 61 characters (57 sounds, 4 punctuation). I also noticed that a few of the Dven'bahniss characters already were transplants from Ahndahn's Alphabet (I really need another name for that one).

Dven'bahniss had so damn many characters (over 100) before the edit today because each sound had a capital version and a lowercase version. Which had been a rather bulky fix of a problem in Ahndahn's Alphabet; AA was originally written into boxes, and the capitalized words were in boxes with thicker lines. The whole box writing was a pain in the arse, and I've only kept it for extremely formal forms of writing (for things such as plaques and memorials), but at the time I decided to make a new written language, a more informal one, with capital "letters" that wasn't in box writing. I also wanted to add sounds to the language. That's how Dven'bahniss was born.

But later, as you may have surmised, I realized that Dven'bahniss was too bulky. Too many characters to remember, and the capitalized versions sometimes looked very different from the lowercase. So in today's edit, I fixed the problem in both written languages by creating a character called "zehzeht." Put a Zehzeht in front of the character you want to capitalize, it's that simple. In fact... I just had an idea for a "sahn-zehzeht," which would allow one to capitalize a whole word. The difference is the difference between Add and ADD. So it would turn the word into an acronym, without using the equivalent of a period (which is good, because it's a box with an X in it).

By the way, one of the major reasons I made written languages for Trai'pahg'nan'nog and other Traipahni languages is because a lot of their sounds don't translate well to latin characters. Some sounds, like DJ (character name "djahn'ahdj'djoh") really have to be heard because even the explanation doesn't do them justice. (DJ sounds like a cross between the d/j combo and the SH sound, with a soft d.) Also, a syllabary was the simplest written language from what I could see. Spell it how it sounds, what could be simpler?

Tomorrow: a combined version!

The OLD file for Ahndahn's Alphabet (I haven't updated it on the server yet)

OLD Dven'bahniss file.

Trai'pahg'nan'nog language.

EDIT: FUCK FUCK FUCKITY COCK IN A MEATGRINDER AND SET ON FIRE FUCK!!! I thought the BMP and the PNG of the new Ahndahn's Alphabet file were identical, forgetting I had stopped updating the BMP after a while, and when I changed the name of the language to "Dven'Ahndahn," I overwrote the PNG! Now I've lost a bunch of names and all the numbers. Goddamn it! RAAAAGE!


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Why even have capital letters? Most languages don't have anything like them. It's pretty much a European quirk

Also Also, a syllabary was the simplest written language from what I could see. Spell it how it sounds, what could be simpler? A syllabry is a script where each character represents a SYLLABLE rather than an individual *sound*. Syllabries generally require large numbers of characters. English, for example, would require thousands of characters if you attempted to write it that way, since English allows such a massive number of combinations of sounds, whereas a phonetic Alphabet for English would require only around 40 or so characters. Syllabries really only work in languages with simple phonologies.
Jun. 21st, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Like Chinese. The Chinese language is far more analytic than the English language is, and the main bear is that there are four tones and tones can be the difference between bird and shit.

And I would note as well that not every script has vowels, either. Those were a purely European quirk as well.
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Vowels aren't quite so uncommon. Most alphabetic scripts have some way of indicating vowels, whether it's by diacritics (which may be optional as in Arabic and Hebrew, or may not be as in Devanagari) or by separate characters. While the European scripts are the most notable, there are non-European scripts with separate characters for vowels and consonants. Hangul is perhaps the most notable example, although the characters are grouped into syllabic blocks. Old Persian Cuneiform used distinct vowel characters, although there were also remnants of syllabary in it. For example, although a syllable like "ka" was written with two characters, one for "k" and one for "a", there were three different ways to write "k" - depending on if hte following vowel was a, i, or u. Some consonants only had a single form. So, it would appear to have been a syllabary in the middle of a transition to a true alphabet. It also had a small number of logograms. The Mongolians also used an alphabet with distinct vowel and consonant characters, although, granted, it was descended from from the same ancestral Phonecian script as the Roman alphabet, but appears to have developed vowel characters independently.

At any rate, vowel characters have a useful function, whereas capital letters are a quirk with no real function. English would lose nothing if we abandoned capitalization, whereas losing vowels would make reading more difficult, especially when it comes to contrasts like cat/cut/cot/Kate/kit/kite/coat/caught which would all be written KT if we lacked any way of indicating vowels! And the words "A" and "I" would be completely lost!
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Your point about reading is one reason that written Arabic and Hebrew require the intensive education and scholarship required to make them legible. Were I particularly uncharitable to the Abrahamic religions I would also note the deficiencies in the writing of the sacred tongues is one reason for the totalitarian potential of Christianity and Islam.

Hangul is the only clearly non-Western version, though. If you're going to talk about alien lifeforms with their own scripts, then it's best to avoid Western examples in favor of non-Western ones.

I would note that Old Persian Cuneiform is very much a Western script, as it was very much influence by the Sumerians across the Zagros. And of course the Roman Script is modified hieroglyphics.........

One way that might make Conscripts more realistic in fact is to have them inadequate for the spoken language. That tends to be rather realistic as when language is written it becomes almost entirely divorced from that you'd hear spoken on the street.
(no subject) - christinathena - Jun. 21st, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinathena - Jun. 21st, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - Jun. 21st, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 21st, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
TPNN has lots of vowel sounds, so their written languages have extra vowels.
Jun. 21st, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
GRRRRRR. Every time I call it a phoenetic language, you and/or Brooke corrects me, telling me it's a syllabary. Now that I'm calling it a syllabary, you're telling me it's not. Make up your frakking mind already!
Jun. 21st, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Well, the image you linked to had symbols for individual sounds, not syllables*. Easy way to tell - how many characters does it take to write, say, "na"? Do you have a symbol for "na", or two separate symbols, one for "n", one for "a"? If the first, it's a syllabry, if the second, an alphabet. Syllabries indicate syllables, hence their name. Alphabets indicate individual sounds. Alphabets are the simplest, as they require the fewest individual characters, and can apply to larger numbers of languages. Syllabries require more distinct characters, but (if the language's structure permits a reasonably small number of characters) are easier for children to learn, as they do not have to combine abstract sounds into syllables. They are, however, more difficult to apply to other languages than that which they were created for.

*Although, in retrospect, I realize that those were different languages, so I could be mistaken.
Jun. 21st, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
I guess they're just alphabets, then. Phoenetic alphabets. End of story.
Jun. 21st, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
100 symbols would work best not with an alphabet or abjad but instead a logosyllabary like cuneiform or the Sinitic scripts. But given your preference for utopian societies in your works, I can say that societies with logosyllabaries would have to be from starfish aliens to be at all utopian. Usually those encourage small literate classes who begin to achieve both wealth and power in excess to others, including even the rulers.

That's what happened in Sumer and in the long history of the Chinese Empire.
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Usually those encourage small literate classes who begin to achieve both wealth and power in excess to others, including even the rulers.

Not really. Alphabets certainly didn't prevent a small literate class in European history, and modern Japan has 99+% literacy, despite a complex system of logograms and syllabaries. It's a matter of education. While an alphabet or syllabary is easier to learn, and thus would require less intensive mass education to create widespread literacy, logographic scripts aren't exactly a insurmountable obstacle, nor alphabets or syllabaries a guarantee of widespread literacy.
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
The difference between what happened when printing emerged in the Sinosphere, with a syllabary, and when printing spread to Europe, which used alphabets that were all descended from the Phoenician (Arabic, Cyrillic, and Roman) is vast.

The Chinese system was so cumbersome that learning it was impossible for most people and it should be noted that the script has been simplified through the entire Imperial and Communist eras, from the time of Qin Shi Huang in the 3rd Century BC to Mao in the 20th Century.

While literacy was definitely limited in the Christian and Islamic worlds it was still all the same far more widespread, if only because it's simpler to learn the Arabic, Cyrillic, and Roman scripts than it is to learn the 3,000 characters needed to be at the "See Spot Run" level of literacy in Japanese.
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Sure, but the point is that, even today, Chinese and Japanese retain large numbers of logographic scripts, and both nations have high literacy rates. Yes, alphabets do make it easier for literacy to spread - as I acknowledged above - it is not *required* for widespread literacy, nor does it automatically confer widespread literacy. I see no reason why a logographic script would be a block to a utopian society. Of all the impediments to a utopia, writing system is pretty low on the list!
Jun. 21st, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
Sure.....after Japan went to a liberal democratic public education system, scrapped the use of the Bungo script in favor of a single one for all occasions and simplified the remaining scripts to a consistent system for use of Kanji, Hiragana, and the other one.

And in the case of China they also had to scrap the Bi-Glossic system of using both Classical Chinese and Mandarin and chose to go with the simpler Mandarin. If Chinese society continued to use its version of Latin as the language of refined culture not much would be different even under the Communists.
(no subject) - christinathena - Jun. 21st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 21st, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
100 symbols would work best not with an alphabet or abjad but instead a logosyllabary like cuneiform or the Sinitic scripts

Or a pure syllabary. Japanese uses 46 kana, but that's only because it also uses diacritics and combinations of kana. "Cha", for example, is written with "chi" + little "ya". If it weren't for those diacritics and combinations, you'd need 104 characters. And that's not even taking into account long vowels, geminates, and moraic n. So, really, we're still talking about a moraic script. Were you to write it as a pure syllabary, with one character for every possible syllable, you'd end up with 416 characters!
Jun. 21st, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
Which is why Hangul stands out as the only alphabet that is not only perfectly phonetic but also capable of preserving the feel of society more. Things like Ataturk's turning Turkish from the refined Ottoman to the Orwellian Turkish do no society any good.
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )


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