Feb. 14th, 2016

ewx: (penguin)

Since it’s the feast of day Saints Cyril and Methodius, it occurred to me to wonder who else has a script named after them. [livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas chipped in and we came up with the following:

  • Tironian notes, a shorthand system attributed to a Roman scribe called Marcus Tullius Tiro from the 1st century BCE. This seems to be an alphabetic system with an aggressively compositional character leading a large number of distinct signs. It was used in medieval Europe.
  • The Manichaean alphabet (technically an abjad), a descendant of the Aramaic script used in the Persian empire (the original one that caused classical Greece so much trouble) and supposedly the creation of the prophet Mani. Mani was the founder of Manichaeism, an early competitor to Christianity that failed to attach itself to any imperial power and seems to have subsequently been persecuted out of existence.
  • Cyrillic, a C9th descendant of the Greek alphabet attributed to the brothers Cyril and Methodius, a traditional attribution apparently supported by explicit reference in a papal bull that unfortunately I can’t find a copy of (much less translation into something I understand). It remains widely used for Slavic languages.
  • Braille was invented by Louise Braille in the C19th as an improvement on the unusably difficult Night writing, originally invented for the purposes of silent communication among soldiers. I often see this in public places and of course the use case has not gone away.
  • Pitman shorthand, invented by Isaac Pitman in the C19th as a phonetically system for writing quickly. Gregg shorthand and Duployan shorthand also date from the same era and there seem to be a number of other shorthands with people’s names attached, and I lost interest chasing down variations on this particular theme. I’m not sure how widely used these systems are any more.

Things that didn’t quite make it:

  • Ogham, an early medieval Irish script attested from the C4th but probably somewhat older. Mythologically attributed to the god Ogma. I rejected this because I wanted people with scripts named after them, not scripts with a probably fictitious attribution to someone who didn’t actually exist.
  • The Gupta script, used for writing in Sanskrit in the Gupta Empire in India (roughly contemporary with the Roman Empire). The script is only indirectly named for an individual - in fact is is named for the empire, which is in turn named after the Gupta dynasty. I rejected Georgian scripts for the same reason.

[livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas is mentioning more on IRC but it’s getting late…

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