Writing system beauty

The place to discuss alphabets and other writing systems.

Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kwami » Fri 11 Sep 2009 8:50 am

Talib wrote:
kwami wrote:You'd have the same religious significance for the Swahili.
Are most speakers of Swahili Muslims? The language has become a lingua franca of the region, extending far beyond its original Urheimat.

In Zanzibar essentially everyone is Muslim. And Zanzibar is still a bit separatist. Swahili was partially "de-islamized" by the British, and this has caused some resentment among Muslims. So no, among Christians & animists, many of whom have historically seen Swahili as the language of the Arab slave trade, there is no love lost with the Arabic script, assuming they even know of it, which many probably do not. But it still does have religious significance for the Swahili people, I mean the ethnic Swahili, who are overwhelmingly Muslim.
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kwami » Fri 11 Sep 2009 8:57 am

imbecilica wrote:Chữ Khoa Đẩu ... This script meaning the "tadpole" script is believed to be the ancient script of the Vietnamese language used before the year 0 before the annexation of Vietnam by China in the first century BCE. As Vietnamese is believed to have not yet developed tones at the time in addition to having more clusters of consonants, inflectional morphology etc. the script seems to represent the ancient Vietnamese language.

Wow - pre-tonic Vietnamese? Haudricourt has been almost universally accepted, but if true, this could actually prove him right. What's your source for this?
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby imbecilica » Fri 11 Sep 2009 10:00 am

kwami wrote:What's your source for this?


Well there are many known findings of tadpole like etchings and those two images were of one of the many findings. Etchings and symbols like those have been found on paper, stones, caves, artefacts like drums etc. I know there are quite a few dedicated people in Vietnam (mostly experts on the Vietnamese language) who are doing a great job at sifting through the finds.

Besides these physical finds, there have been numerous accounts in various Chinese and Vietnamese texts, although I can't find them! It is quite well accepted that Vietnamese started to develop tones between the 2nd and 6th Centuries CE - at first 2 tones then 4 and eventually 6.
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kwami » Fri 11 Sep 2009 11:09 am

Yes, but it would still be great to have actually texts showing the development, so we could see it happen, rather than just reconstructions. Chinese records would be basically useless. Rather amazing that paper documents would have survived from that age in that climate, which makes me rather suspicious. Have the Old Vietnamese texts been published (not just photographed) so we can trace the evolution of the language?
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby SpareSymbol » Fri 11 Sep 2009 4:36 pm

Speaking of beauty I've always found Ge'ez and Thaana to be unpleasing to the eye.

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/ethiopic.htm
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/thaana.htm
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kwami » Fri 11 Sep 2009 9:06 pm

Thaana does look a bit like chicken scratches, but I always thought that Ethiopic has a stately look to it. At least if you get a decent calligraphic font: most of the free fonts out there are pretty bad.
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby Pangu » Thu 15 Jul 2010 4:35 am

kwami wrote:I don't care for Chinese, because there even the most empty words, like ah!, are graphically complex.

I agree. I've always thought the so-called "empty words" should be much more simplified or just write it with Zhuyin, so:
啊 > ㄚ
呢 > ㄋ
吧 > ㄅ
嗎 > ㄇ
And even though the three "de's" each have a purpose, I don't believe they are truly necessary and should be all simplified to ㄉ, many young people already do so when typing online.

kwami wrote:(But then, for someone raised on Chinese, the Latin alphabet looks like Morse code, and must seem an atrocious script.)

Prior to me learning English, I was first exposed to the cursive form and it looked to me just like bunch of incomprehensible loops together. I don't recall my impression of print form though. This was when I was about 7 or 8 :)

kwami wrote:And why do people typesetting Japanese and Chinese use such ugly fonts, with those stupid triangular serifs at the end of each stroke, when there are so many absolutely gorgeous Chinese fonts out there?

I personally don't find the Song / Ming font to be ugly per se, it's just frequently used in the wrong places. The Song / Ming font is just like Times or Times New Roman and is supposed to be used only in print such as books. The Hei font is the equivalent of Arial and should be used for the web and labels and signs.
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kwami » Thu 15 Jul 2010 10:44 am

Pangu wrote:I personally don't find the Song / Ming font to be ugly per se, it's just frequently used in the wrong places. The Song / Ming font is just like Times or Times New Roman and is supposed to be used only in print such as books. The Hei font is the equivalent of Arial and should be used for the web and labels and signs.

Eew! Hei is ugly too! Brushstroke fonts are so much nicer. Maybe they're hard on the eyes when reading quickly or in large quantities? But Japanese textbooks use a rather blocky brushstroke font (教科書) that's not too bad, and it doesn't cause any difficulties with legibility. Semi-cursive is even nicer, IMO.

I have the same criticisms with English: Latin Arial is butt-ugly in my opinion, and TNR isn't that great either. But in a script were calligraphy is so important, and so beautifully developed, it seems like a slap in the face to use ugly, unimaginative fonts like ming, song, and hei.
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby kaenif » Thu 15 Jul 2010 1:46 pm

kwami wrote:
Pangu wrote:I personally don't find the Song / Ming font to be ugly per se, it's just frequently used in the wrong places. The Song / Ming font is just like Times or Times New Roman and is supposed to be used only in print such as books. The Hei font is the equivalent of Arial and should be used for the web and labels and signs.

Eew! Hei is ugly too! Brushstroke fonts are so much nicer. Maybe they're hard on the eyes when reading quickly or in large quantities? But Japanese textbooks use a rather blocky brushstroke font (教科書) that's not too bad, and it doesn't cause any difficulties with legibility. Semi-cursive is even nicer, IMO.

I have the same criticisms with English: Latin Arial is butt-ugly in my opinion, and TNR isn't that great either. But in a script were calligraphy is so important, and so beautifully developed, it seems like a slap in the face to use ugly, unimaginative fonts like ming, song, and hei.

Like Biaokaiti?
Can you recognise this character?
Nope, it's not shāng. It is a 囧 with a hat which 囧ed its chin off!
囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧!
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Re: Writing system beauty

Postby Pangu » Thu 15 Jul 2010 3:24 pm

kwami wrote:
Pangu wrote:I personally don't find the Song / Ming font to be ugly per se, it's just frequently used in the wrong places. The Song / Ming font is just like Times or Times New Roman and is supposed to be used only in print such as books. The Hei font is the equivalent of Arial and should be used for the web and labels and signs.

Eew! Hei is ugly too! Brushstroke fonts are so much nicer. Maybe they're hard on the eyes when reading quickly or in large quantities? But Japanese textbooks use a rather blocky brushstroke font (教科書) that's not too bad, and it doesn't cause any difficulties with legibility. Semi-cursive is even nicer, IMO.

I have the same criticisms with English: Latin Arial is butt-ugly in my opinion, and TNR isn't that great either. But in a script were calligraphy is so important, and so beautifully developed, it seems like a slap in the face to use ugly, unimaginative fonts like ming, song, and hei.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder then. :)

I personally find 楷體 Kaiti only suitable for book titles or chapter names, essentially in limited usage.
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