"writing down an unwritten language"
- Hi guys, I only joined a day or so ago, dont know if this is the right way
to send stuff, or even if you've seen this before. Sorry if you have. I
found this pretty interesting
- The letters from Latin alphabet are called by different names in
different languages. Does this contribute to the consideration of
those set of letters as different alphabets? Or maybe taxons of the
Latin alphabet in a different hierarchical level...
2014-03-04 19:02 GMT+01:00 Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>:
> Better out than in, as they say. Since it seems I've been outed as a Quibbler and stand accused a bandwidth waster, I'll just address all the quibbles in one rantette and leave it at that:
> As far as wasting bandwidth and wasting time on threads like this rather than conlanging goes, mind, a quick look at the Conlang Archive for this thread shows who's got us all beat with replies to this thread!, with a score of 7 to 3 ;) And it ain't me this time!
> www.google.fr gives us 373,000 hits for "l'alphabet Francais"
> www.google.com.mx gives 96,000 hits for "alfabeto español", same for www.google.es
> www.google.de gives 18000 for "deutsches alphabet" and 33000 for "deutsche alphabet"
> www.google.it gives 59000 for "alfabeto italiano"
> www.google.pt gives 30000 hits for "alfabeto português"
> www.google.com.br gives nearly 6000 hits for "alfabeto brasileiro"
> I'm not stupid and I don't always just say random nonsense. I am not linguistically ignorant, though I don't claim to be a professional linguist either. I never said that we must call our alphabet the English alphabet or that the French always call theirs the French alphabet. I never said the terms were either superior to or inferior to "Latin alphabet". All I've said, and still maintain, is that these names do exist, for English as well as other languages and are not uncommonly used and are entirely appropriate to the task. And certainly that there is nothing wrong with calling the alphabets we use for our various languages by just those names. That said, I didn't just pick these names out of a hat and pretend that every single French or German person uses these names to the exclusion of all others (and I include myself in that group!) The above numbers are real returns from language specific Google sites (rather than the English default for this region
> (the USA)). You don't have to like it, you might not even be aware of it, and you can pish-posh it if you like -- but this is not mé saying that other people do or must call their alphabets by these names. These are actual French or Portuguese or German speakers writing blogs, asking questions or otherwise creating online content in their own languages calling their alphabets by these names! Of course, Wikipedia is among those search returns -- but I very much hope you are not making the assumption that I take WP as the end all be all of research!
> It seems very much that far from being a "misnomer" or an "insult", it is an entirely legitimate as well as common practice to call a language's alphabet by that language's name, to which some folks here agree and others disagree, and that's fine. Maybe not by linguists (although I do have language related works that call ours the "English alphabe"), but not everyone in the world is a professional linguist! It is not a practice restricted to English, and it is not an example of English jingoism to do so. I'm certainly not planting a flag and claiming it for America! It is not a "misnomer", it is simply what very many ordinary people, and even some in the know -- the users of the languages -- call the set of letters they use to write their own language. No one has to feel shame or guilt over this and we sure don't need anyone to tell us how we may call our own alphabet! It is a right name because that's what we call it! I now feel in good company, with
> tens of thousands of French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian and etc. people who also call their own alphabets by their own particular names. And I certainly don't claim the right to tell anyone else what they must or must not call their own alphabet in their own bloody language!
> All this said, I have no problem whatsoever with "Latin Alphabet", and never once said I did. It has its uses, and I use the term myself at times. First and foremost of course, it is the "alphabet (i.e., set of letters) used to write the Latin language". Secondly, and more generally, it is also a much enlarged set of letters -- the universal Latin alphabet -- that can be used to write any language that utilises this type of alphabet. It is not the alphabet of any one language -- least of all English! -- but is the sum total of all their alphabets. And on this point, at the least, I agree that "English Alphabet" and "French Alphabet" etc are but subsets of this greater alphabet. As a very broad and general term for a type of alphabet (i.e., "Latin" vs. "Greek" types), it's a fine term. But when a French speaking person and an English speaking person and a Hawaiian speaking person and a Tagalog speaking person all start saying "we use the Latin alphabet
> to write our language", my first reaction is "okay, that term is now so broad as to be useless, because each of these languages uses a different set of that universal alphabet to write itself down." Hence, the extreme utility of terms like "English alphabet", etc. I think that is more accurate, not less. I respect your differences of opinon -- kindly respect mine.
> As for the idea that we can't call this alphabet the English because the English didn't invent it -- well, that's just nuts in my opinion. Who the hell invented the Latin alphabet? The Romans? They're thieves! They stole it from the Etruscans who in turn nicked it from the Greeks who in turn nam it from the Phoenicians who, to be fair, properly inherited from the Semites who in turn got it from the Egyptians. If that's the kind of logic we have to go by, then call it what it ought then to be called: the Kemetian Alphabet. If we must insist on going back to origins, at least go back to the uttermost origin, and not some midpoint! If origins are too far back, then don't pretend that calling it "Latin" makes more inherent sense than "English" or "Tagalog".
> And as for the idea that I can only be allowed to speak of an "English Alphabet" once we get some letters of our own, what the heck do you think Thorn, Wynn and Edh are? Random doodles? We may not use em anymore (and that's a discussion for another time), but they are letters historically associated with the English Alphabet. We even have yogh, if those three aren't good enough! (At least thorn ìs still used, if only in its highly debased "wye" form, and anymore only in a mock archaic way "Ye Olde Booke Shoppe" sort of thing -- but ye, yt, ys, etc. were all used well into the era of printing in English.) So, myeh.
> As for the claim that I oughtn't be allowed to call it "English alphabet" because it's not "unique" or not "exclusively" English, that's just a non starter. Prescriptivism run amok. So what next? I can't call the English Channel the English Channel because it's not exclusively English waters? You're welcome to that kind of thinking, but no, thank you! I do not subscribe to that sort of notion.
> And as for the Scots Alphabet, what of it? Quh- has long been good English as well as good Scots: "As a substitute for wh-, the spelling qu- (also qw-, quh-, etc.) represents the reflexes of OE cw-, occasionally of ON hv-. Such spellings appear in texts from several areas, rarely used exclusively, usually alternating with wh- and/or w-. They are most frequent in writers and texts known or generally thought to be from the North, esp. in Castleford..." Unless you're telling us that Yorkshire is in Scotland. :S Several consulted works on Middle ENGLISH confirm that [xw] (the northern variety of [hw]) gets spelled (variously) qu, quh, qwh, etc. in various parts of especially northern England. No actual Scots were harmed in the evolution of this usage!
> As for "English Orthography" -- I agree 100%! But orthography is an entirely different matter, and orthography is absolutely nòt what I'm talking about! I'm only talking about the set of letters -- the alphabet -- not how those letters are arranged when spelling.
> Names are indeed important, and I feel entirely free and nomenclaturally satisfied to distinguish the "English" alphabet -- if you insist, as a subset of the Latin alphabet -- from the "French" and the "Spanish" (subsets). Different languages, different alphabets, even if they do all dip from the same basic letterhoard (as I said before, and above). So yes. I now feel 100% empowered to continue calling these letters of ours the entirely apt, adequate and accurate term, "English Alphabet", if for no other reasons than that I've been told on the one hand to feel guilty about doing so and on the other, I've been told I'm not allowed. Pshh. Whatever.
> Okay, rant over. But at least we learned yt non-English speakers, generally speaking, are not "insulted" by anyone calling yse letters ye "English alphabet". Yt's all I was really interested in knowing about in ye first place. And quhoever twas said yt I need some English-specific letters can take all yse here English-specific letters and stick em back in yer lower case! :Þ