View Full Version : How does written language look to you?

12-03-05, 14:49
This is just a fun thing. I was having a converstion with my brother recently and he mentioned that he had bought a foreign version of Babylon 5, as it was cheaper than the proper English version, as it is not dubbed not a problem for him. Anyway, I asked him where it was from. He mentioned that it was around China area as it had chinese or japanese writting on it. I said it might even be Korean. He replied no, because he sees written korean as a 'square' language. Intrigued I asked him about other languages. He sees Arabic as if it has been written in the wind and Hindi as top heavy. I wonder if other people see these patterns in wriiten languages? :-)

12-03-05, 18:33
When I first saw korean I thought of it as circular. Chinese was midblowingly difficult and japanese was a little easier.

Now I still see Korean as circular, but I can actually read Japanese and Chinese(to an extent) so I see them as languages.

Hindi I see as some kind of abstract mess.(no offense, I just can't read it. That makes everything look odd)

Arabic: I still can't make out where the letters begin and end. It looks like one long line.

12-03-05, 18:47
Your brother is quite perceptive of scripts; I tend to agree with his characterizations. To add I'd say Arabic calligrpahy looks more like a code or picture to me. A South Asian script based on Sanskrit appears to be circular in strokes, and feels like an alphabet instead of a syllabry.

If I were given a document in an arbitrary language that I do not recognize, I would first try to delineate the units, then classify all distinguishable elements, and then make a count of independent sound representations. If the number were somewhere between 20 and 40, I would assume that to be alphabetic. If the figure were somewhere between 100-500, I might think that was a syllabry (as in Japanese kana). If the number seemed to be above 1,000, I could safely say that would a morphemic script (as in Chinese).

Hybrid or multilingual scripts such as Japanese kana used with kanji, or Korean han'gul used with hanja would pose a serious challenge if I didn't know Chinese characters; but if I did, I could probably make a correct judgment even in the case of a hybrid script.

12-03-05, 20:01
Just to updtae you on my brother and languages. He descibes Chinese as full characters and Japanese as chinese light. A low calorific Chinese if you will. :p

12-03-05, 23:02
That's quite true because the kana writings are supposed to have come from simplifying some of the kanji's for denoting the sounds of Japanese.

At the same time, the origin of the Phoenician alphabet is also speculated to have been born first as pictograms, and later experienced simplification to denote the initial consonant of the word the letter represented. I have seen various versions, but none were conclusive. I do have a few interesting pieces about the Hebrew aleph 'bull' and baiit 'house'.

?LP (Greek alpha) can also denote the first three consonants of the elephant or ivory 'elephas'. Of course the bovines, the ungulates; lead; white; or the moon.

BT (Greek beta) can stand for house, bed rock, household, woman, girl, or child.

The original language, the sounds of which became the basis for the Canaanite-phoenician alphabet, could have been a Semitic langauge or an unknown language. It would be good to know exactly what kind of simplifications or loanings gave our alphabet the form and the sound.

An interesting loaning can be obseved in Chinese numerals 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 which were all phonetic loans from graphs depicting other, non-numeric objects. THus the outer forms of writing hold some information for unravelling the original protoetymology of the graph.

15-03-11, 23:56
I wonder if the character of a culture is reflected in their characters?

I see chinese as quite formal(square) but arabic as more fluid and random with the shapes far less definable. It hard to judge, but I see Latin characters as the most formal of all, very clean simple forms.

I work in the design industry so you naturally become obsessed with fonts and character shapes, I'd be facinated to know to what extent there are differnt fonts in arabic and chinese?

29-07-15, 18:18
Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Aboriginal_syllabics) look like they belong in a hypothetical urban/cyberpunk science fiction future world. Very simplistic yet elegantly geometric.

Hebrew is too mixed up in my mind with Judaism for me to attempt a reasonably detached opinion other than to say it looks mystical and arcane, like something you might imagine would be used in a book of magic spells.

Georgian looks very much like JRR Tolkien's Tengwar script, so it evokes LOTR-related imagery.

The Ge'ez script, used to write some east African languages, looks schizophrenic, like the sort of script that someone might come up with while drunk, high, or not in their right mind. Wildly creative, outlandish.