Topic: Writing systems
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."
Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders". After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of British policies.
He pioneered and was the first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.
He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the late 1750s, he began arguing against slavery and became an abolitionist.
His life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.
- "Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues" | 2012-09-04 | 101 Upvotes 73 Comments
A bidirectional text contains both text directionalities, right-to-left (RTL or dextrosinistral) and left-to-right (LTR or sinistrodextral). It generally involves text containing different types of alphabets, but may also refer to boustrophedon, which is changing text direction in each row.
Some writing systems including the Arabic and Hebrew scripts or derived systems such as the Persian, Urdu, and Yiddish scripts, are written in a form known as right-to-left (RTL), in which writing begins at the right-hand side of a page and concludes at the left-hand side. This is different from the left-to-right (LTR) direction used by the dominant Latin script. When LTR text is mixed with RTL in the same paragraph, each type of text is written in its own direction, which is known as bidirectional text. This can get rather complex when multiple levels of quotation are used.
Many computer programs fail to display bidirectional text correctly. For example, the Hebrew name Sarah (שרה) is spelled: sin (ש) (which appears rightmost), then resh (ר), and finally heh (ה) (which should appear leftmost).
Note: Some web browsers may display the Hebrew text in this article in the opposite direction.
- "txet lanoitcerid-iB" | 2014-11-27 | 105 Upvotes 14 Comments
Blissymbols or Blissymbolics is a constructed language conceived as an ideographic writing system called Semantography consisting of several hundred basic symbols, each representing a concept, which can be composed together to generate new symbols that represent new concepts. Blissymbols differ from most of the world's major writing systems in that the characters do not correspond at all to the sounds of any spoken language.
Blissymbols was published by Charles K. Bliss in 1949 and found use in the education of people with communication difficulties.
Boustrophedon (Ancient Greek: βουστροφηδόν, boustrophēdón "ox-turning" from βοῦς, bous, "ox", στροφή, strophē, "turn" and the adverbial suffix -δόν, "like, in the manner of"; that is, turning like oxen in ploughing) is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Alternate lines of writing are flipped, or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern European languages, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in boustrophedon must be read in opposite directions. Also, the individual characters are reversed, or mirrored. It was a common way of writing in stone in Ancient Greece.
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the late 1810s and early 1820s to write the Cherokee language. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy as he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed into a syllabary. In his system, each symbol represents a syllable rather than a single phoneme; the 85 (originally 86) characters provide a suitable method to write Cherokee. Although some symbols resemble Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic letters, they are not used to represent the same sounds.
- "Cherokee Syllabary" | 2019-06-30 | 56 Upvotes 12 Comments
Han unification is an effort by the authors of Unicode and the Universal Character Set to map multiple character sets of the so-called CJK languages into a single set of unified characters. Han characters are a common feature of written Chinese (hanzi), Japanese (kanji), and Korean (hanja).
Modern Chinese, Japanese and Korean typefaces typically use regional or historical variants of a given Han character. In the formulation of Unicode, an attempt was made to unify these variants by considering them different glyphs representing the same "grapheme", or orthographic unit, hence, "Han unification", with the resulting character repertoire sometimes contracted to Unihan.
Unihan can also refer to the Unihan Database maintained by the Unicode Consortium, which provides information about all of the unified Han characters encoded in the Unicode Standard, including mappings to various national and industry standards, indices into standard dictionaries, encoded variants, pronunciations in various languages, and an English definition. The database is available to the public as text files and via an interactive website. The latter also includes representative glyphs and definitions for compound words drawn from the free Japanese EDICT and Chinese CEDICT dictionary projects (which are provided for convenience and are not a formal part of the Unicode Standard).
The Hokkaido characters (北海道異体文字, hokkaidō itai moji), also known as Aino characters (アイノモジ, aino moji) or Ainu characters (アイヌ文字, ainu moji), are a set of characters discovered around 1886 on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. At the time of their discovery, they were believed to be a genuine script, but this view is not generally supported today.
- "Hokkaido characters" | 2017-08-13 | 57 Upvotes 4 Comments
The long s (ſ) is an archaic form of the lower case letter s. It replaced the single s, or the first s in a double s (e.g. "ſinfulneſs" for "sinfulness" and "ſucceſs" for "success"). The long s is the basis of the first half of the grapheme or the German alphabet ligature letter ß, which is known as the Eszett. The modern letterform is known as the short, terminal, or round s.
The Phaistos Disc (also spelled Phaistos Disk, Phaestos Disc) is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (second millennium B.C.). The disk is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion.
The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 distinct signs, which were apparently made by pressing hieroglyphic "seals" into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling toward the center of the disk.
The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archaeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc's signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography. Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.
Although the Phaistos Disc is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists, a few scholars believe that the disc is a forgery or a hoax.
- "Phaistos Disc" | 2019-09-04 | 44 Upvotes 35 Comments
Rongorongo (; Rapa Nui: [ˈɾoŋoˈɾoŋo]) is a system of glyphs discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island that appears to be writing or proto-writing. Numerous attempts at decipherment have been made, none successfully. Although some calendrical and what might prove to be genealogical information has been identified, none of these glyphs can actually be read. If rongorongo does prove to be writing and proves to be an independent invention, it would be one of very few independent inventions of writing in human history.
Two dozen wooden objects bearing rongorongo inscriptions, some heavily weathered, burned, or otherwise damaged, were collected in the late 19th century and are now scattered in museums and private collections. None remain on Easter Island. The objects are mostly tablets shaped from irregular pieces of wood, sometimes driftwood, but include a chieftain's staff, a bird-man statuette, and two reimiro ornaments. There are also a few petroglyphs which may include short rongorongo inscriptions. Oral history suggests that only a small elite was ever literate and that the tablets were sacred.
Authentic rongorongo texts are written in alternating directions, a system called reverse boustrophedon. In a third of the tablets, the lines of text are inscribed in shallow fluting carved into the wood. The glyphs themselves are outlines of human, animal, plant, artifact and geometric forms. Many of the human and animal figures, such as glyphs 200 and 280 , have characteristic protuberances on each side of the head, possibly representing eyes.
Individual texts are conventionally known by a single uppercase letter and a name, such as Tablet C, the Mamari Tablet. The somewhat variable names may be descriptive or indicate where the object is kept, as in the Oar, the Snuffbox, the Small Santiago Tablet, and the Santiago Staff.
- "Rongorongo" | 2020-02-08 | 80 Upvotes 17 Comments