2023-02-15Well, we moved to Germany (we know!), so I’ve been correcting some of my gaps in recent German history by reading the lengthy Wikipedia page on German reunification. In terms of online life, that’s the only real giveaway that I’ve moved in the real world. The rest of the anglophone media roar rolls along as before with two notable edits. I’ve completely cut out the very high volume Westminster insider newsletter I used to read first thing every morning (why?
2022-11-07First off, here’s a DJ set I liked. Right now a lot of people are talking about leaving Twitter (here’s mine). Many of those that go ahead with it and turning up in Mastodon (here’s mine) and talking a big game about how the collapse of Twitter will beget a golden age for the decentralised internet. That’s nice. I don’t believe it’s really going to be that simple, though. On the topic of decentralised internet things: the FBI seized the Z-lib ebook archive!
2022-08-24First I have this amazing oral history of the production of certain aspects of the video game Red Alert 3. Specifically the story is about how this incredible cut scene, starring Tim Curry as a high camp Soviet general blasting off into space, came to be. It’s astonishingly detailed and manages to go far beyond “pretty funny clip”. It talks about how casting and producing these little fragments of video for video games works.
2021-11-16I’ve been away from home for just over a week now. I’ve been in France. When I’m not in the UK I feel a lot less claustrophobic; I feel like I have such a wider range of choices to choose for my life. An advantage of this trip has been spending time with people who actually live in not-the-UK. I believe to some extent that people are the same everywhere but it’s been nice to see the variations in the patterns of a life.
Jiangyong Nüshu is essentially premised on the simplification and stylization of standard Chinese characters. The women who created it chose one character to stand for one sound in their language (in contrast to standard Sinographic writing, where one sound may be represented by dozens or scores of discrete characters. In this way, the memory load on the users of the script was much reduced.
In addition, Nüshu adheres to the principle of what I call “rhomboidization”, whereby the square shapes of Sinographs are tilted diagonally. Another noticeable feature of Nüshu is its exaggeratedly long, curved strokes to suit the particular medium they may be using, e.g., embroidery, one of the chief forms in which the script is practiced.
In some respects, Jiangyong Nüshu is distinctive, but it is not an utterly unique specimen of a script that was originally used primarily by women. Another is the Japanese cursive syllabary called hiragana, which was also known as onnade 女手 (“women’s hand / writing”). Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), one of the great novels of the world, written in the early 11th century by the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu, was written in hiragana.
— Women’s writing: dead or alive, Victor Mair in Language Log
V. Krishna and the making of an English-Kannada dictionary
V. Krishna and Narasimhamurthy, KaGaPa’s proprietor, spoke passionately about Kannada literature and digitisation projects in the quaint little office room, surrounded by stacks of old Kannada books and literature. It was the perfect setting. Then, the extremely soft-spoken and mild-mannered V. Krishna fired up a computer and showed us his lifelong side project, his Kannada-English dictionary. Researched and written over a period of more than 40 years, 150,000+ Kannada words and 240,000+ English definitions, all neatly typed up in a Word document, complete with parts of speech tags and phonetic notations with diacritics for Kannada words. The ambition of the project, its scholarly quality, the depth of the data, the culmination of one man’s passion, perseverance, and tenacity over a lifetime, all lying in obscurity, stumbled upon by sheer coincidence. Absolutely mind blowing.
He offered V. Krishna a perpetual, unconditional monthly stipend to support his passion, working on his dictionary. Here is the kicker—he is now working on an English-Kannada dictionary and has recently completed all the “A” words.
— Alar: The making of an open source dictionary, Kailash Nadh, CTO of Zerodha
To begin with, White reminds us, the original Americans always pronounced r, as the British did in colonial times. Only in the late 18th century did the British stop pronouncing r after a vowel. Not surprisingly, the colonists who remained in the big East Coast seaports and had regular contact with London adopted the new British pronunciation. But those who settled inland retained the old r and never lost it. (As White says, this means that Shakespeare’s accent was probably more like standard American today than Received Pronunciation.)
— Tawk of the Town, Patricia T O' Conner in Literary Review
Igbo Orthography and The Ndebe Script
Vowels are separated into low, rising, and high categories, which are presumably the only tonal delineations in Igbo. The notable absence of a corresponding “falling” tone, I first thought, creates problems for adapting the script to a language like Yorùbá, where, for example, the ọ̀ in Báyọ̀ carries a “falling” rather than a “low” tone when the sound is properly rendered. But on a second look, I find that what is meant as “rising” here is actually the same as a “mid” tone in Yorùbá. Still, linguists interested in adapting Ńdébé for languages with different tonal patterns than Igbo’s, or with no tone at all, like Fulfulde, have plenty to work with. Igwe-Odunze, who has been working on this writing system for over ten years, has been clear that her original intention was to provide an Igbo script, calling Ńdébé her “gift to every Igbo person.”
— Writing Africa’s Future in New Characters, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sú in Popula
2019-08-05I was vaguely aware that the French language is basically policed by the Académie Française, but I’d never seen this statistic that really shows how small the base French vocabulary is. Aptly enough I saw it in this article about the French propensity to say… no. there are 500,000 words in the English language, but only 70,000 in French — The Culture Map by Erin Meyer via BBC