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158158Re: Languages written in the Roman alphabet (Was: Re: Chinese whispers game)

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  • Eugene Oh
    Mar 1, 2009
      2009/3/1 Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>

      > 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!
      > That is rather ingenious. I hope they didn't need to use letters like ʀ
      (Latin Letter Small Capital R)! It'd be tough trying to think up a
      distinctive upper-case for that.

      2009/3/1 R A Brown <ray@...>

      > Philip Newton wrote:
      >> 2009/3/1 Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>:
      >>> Does Swahili not have its own script? I honestly did not know it used the
      >>> Roman alphabet.
      > No, it doesn't - but then neither does English! Most languages, I think,
      > share scripts.
      > 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.

      It seems as though colonial history plays a large part in terms of who gets
      to devise a Roman orthography for the local tongue!

      > 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_).

      I am certainly learning a lot about the origins of typographic conventions
      today. But what are the "Greek system" and the "vocalic system"? I thought
      Greek was the first alphabet to use vowel letters...?

      > Personally, I'm not phased one way or the other by diacritics (tho, I do
      > think Vietnamese has somewhat overdone their use :)

      Blame the French. :-P

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