Archive for Alphabets and Letters

Identifying languages by their writing

I recently read a couple articles on how to identify many languages by how they are written. Harbeck offers good, often cheeky mnemonics for recognizing languages based on Roman lettering (Western and European languages), as well as Asian, Middle Eastern, Cyrillic, and North African languages. Helpful, although I would like to see tips for identifying […]

Sixty-one “letters”

I just read/skimmed a story from 1983—“Cryptic,” by Jack McDevitt—in which the protagonist has come across a radio signal that seems to include “sixty-one distinct pulse patterns, which was to say, sixty-one characters.” The protagonist consults the only linguist he knows, who says, among other things: “Sixty-one letters seems a trifle much.” And goes on […]

ogham transliterator

Back in column OOO, I wrote a fairly detailed discussion of ogham, an alphabet used in some contexts in ancient Ireland and elsewhere. I recently came across a cute ogham transliterator tool online; you type in a sequence of letters, and it shows you what the ogham equivalent of that sequence would be. This is […]