#language

Chinese women's writing

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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.

V. Krishna and the making of an English-Kannada dictionary

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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 New York Accent

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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.

Igbo Orthography and The Ndebe Script

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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.

The Académie Française

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I 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