158153Re: Languages written in the Roman alphabet (Was: Re: Chinese whispers game)
- Mar 1, 2009Philip Newton wrote:
> 2009/3/1 Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>:No, it doesn't - but then neither does English! Most languages, I think,
>> Does Swahili not have its own script? I honestly did not know it used the
>> Roman alphabet.
Swahili used to be written in a variety of the Arabic alphabet, but has
used the Roman alphabet for a long time now. As an official language of
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the African Union, it is written in the
Roman alphabet - without diacritics.
>> Is is the same case with the other languages of the region (besides Ge'ez,Yep - some do use diacritics and/or extra letters. But some African
>> Amharic, etc.)? Are languages like Ewe also written in the Roman script?
> I think that of languages in Africa, only Berber, Arabic, Hausa, and
> Ge'ez+friends do not use the Latin alphabet.
> In fact, some of them use something I've always found interesting: IPA
> letters which they thought up upper-case variants for!
languages, e.g. Zulu & Xhosa, happily (but, arguably, not optimally) use
the Roman script without diacritics.
At one time, of course, the languages of Europe got along without
diacritics. It was essentially the rise of printing that led their
consistent use; at first, as we see in French, it was an attempt to
adopt the Greek system to the vocalic system. Some, like the cedilla,
originated from the habit of writing a small _z_ under the letter _c_ if
it was to retain the "soft" sound before a back vowel (i.e. writing a
small superscript _z_ was considered more elegant than _cz_).
Diacritics are occasionally found in English. Some one has mentioned
foreign (mainly modern French) borrowing; the spellings _coöperation_ or
_co-operation_ were both fairly common when I was young. In verse where
the _e_ in the preterite/past participle ending is to be pronounced
still usually IME has the _e_ marked with a grave accent.
Personally, I'm not phased one way or the other by diacritics (tho, I do
think Vietnamese has somewhat overdone their use :)
It seems to me that those who object to the use of _any_ diacritics and
those who rail about English not (usually) using them are both taking
But, it is, of course, quite untrue that only English & Latin are
properly written without them.
"Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
[J.G. Hamann, 1760]
"A mind that thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language".
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