Archive for Alphabets and Letters

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 […]

Endangered alphabets

I’ve long been fascinated by writing systems across languages and history. Languages, whether written or spoken, sometimes remind me of living organisms: Over time they not only change and adapt, but can become endangered and extinct. To reduce the chances of language extinction, the Endangered Alphabets Project aims to play an active role in preserving […]

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 […]