Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Language Archives
Saturday, March 08, 2003 Permanent link to this day
Random reading

John Cage's Indeterminacy [via Irregular Orbit]

Sunday, July 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
You too can be a poet

Dances With Daffodils: on the N plus 7 word game and its practical applications to poetry. [via Follow Me Here]

Saturday, June 29, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Understanding the dots

Images as the Text: Pictographs and Pictographic Logic: Johanna Drucker and Jerome McGann propose a logical system for pictographic languages. A true pictograph functions as an image whose meaning is communicated through its visual form as a picture of something, whether the communication is effected through substitution or translation into language or not. Historically speaking, we know of very few fully developed pictographic systems. Ancient writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Babylonian pictographic precursors to cuneiform, Hittite hieroglyphics, and other scripts in the ancient near east, used pictorial forms but usually in what are known as "mixed" systems. The pictographic representation of an animal, object, or person functioned as a sign in a system that also used ideographic, logographic, syllabic, and phonetic principles to represent concepts, words, or sounds. Mixed systems are also characteristic of the new world languages and writing systems from mesoamerica, such as Mayan and Aztec glyphs. Many of these systems used the sign in multiple ways (so that, for instance, the rebus of an eye would be readable as "I", as the concept "to see", and so forth).

[via wood s lot]

Friday, June 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Perl Schmerl

Perl is Internet Yiddish

Yiddish is the caring, authoritative inscrutability of your elders. It has rules, but they're mainly inherited from the tributary languages. It's inconsistent in a way that shows it doesn't matter. It sounds like a beautiful mess (which, considering its mainly Germanic origins, is quite an achievement). Well, it sounds beautiful to me, anyway. Others think it's just a mess - there's a famous National Lampoon "Teach Yourself Yiddish" piece that recommends you make up vaguely German/Russian-sounding words that start with "sch" and just string them together.

See also: Yiddish Dictionary

[via Boing Boing]

Saturday, June 15, 2002 Permanent link to this day
The more they change

Explaining Linguistic Diversity: reviews of two books that look at the world's languages from two different viewpoints: their evolutionary diversity and their intrinsic commonalities. [via wood s lot]

Dotting the I's

The Philosophy of Punctuation

Punctuation absorbs more of my thought than seems healthy for a man who pretends to be well adjusted. The subject is naturally attractive to all with character structures of the sort Freud dubbed anal, and I readily confess to belong to that sect. We anal folk keep neat houses, are always on time, and know all the do's and don't's, including those of punctuation. Good punctuation, we feel, makes for clean thought. A mania for punctuation is also an occupational hazard for almost any teacher, as hundreds of our hours are given over to correcting the vagrant punctuation of our students.

[via Follow Me Here]

Monday, June 03, 2002 Permanent link to this day
How's your Gaelic?

Whether or not you can read the language, the illuminations in The Murthly Hours are worth perusing. [via wood s lot]

Monday, May 20, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Reading between the lines

The Cuneiform Digital Library: cataloging the thousands of cuneiform tablets scattered around the world.

Saturday, May 18, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Indiana uses it

So, you've dashed off for the weekend to explore Egyptian ruins and you've run across a tablet covered in strange markings. You need [via Bifurcated Rivets]

Sunday, May 12, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Clear enough?

Moral Clarity: Safire looks at a phrase that has seen wide use in justifications of military action and intervention recently.

Sunday, April 28, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Written origins

Indus Script: the Mother of All Alphabetic Scripts: a review of Natwar Jha's and N.S. Rajaram's The Deciphered Indus Script.

Science historians have long acknowledged that the international numeral system (1,2, 3,), based on the concepts of placement and zero, as well as the decimal system were invented by the ancient Hindus. (Nonetheless many Western publications continue to call these numerals Arabic-- Arab historians themselves have always acknowledged the numerals' Hindu origins.)

An even more fundamental contribution to human knowledge-- the origin of alphabetic writing--must now be credited to the ancient Hindus. This claim arises from the deciphering of the ancient Indus script recently accomplished by Natwar Jha. In 1996, he published Vedic Glossary on Indus Seals, which briefly explained his methodology and presented readings of more than 100 seals. It was an English language summary of his monumental publications, Sindhu Mudra Lipi Bhasa, in Sanskrit, and Sindhu Sabhyata ki Mudraon ki Bhasa aur Lipi, in Hindi.

Saturday, March 02, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Dissecting birdsong

Syntactic Structure in Birdsong: Memetic Evolution of Songs or Grammars? Is there a grammatical structure to the songs of the House Finch or are they simply composed of memes? We still don't know.

Monday, February 18, 2002 Permanent link to this day

Prepositions to end sentences with: debunking the myth that sentences should not be ended with prepositions. My 8th grade English teacher would be spinning her grave in. [via Kiplog]

What's that word?

They Have a Word for It: words with no English equivalent, based on Howard Rheingold's 1988 book. [via Rebecca's Pocket]

Thursday, December 27, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Language of war

Language of war claims its own victims: Umberto Eco on the care needed by our leaders when choosing words.

If words carry weight, perhaps it is not the case that we should have philosophers govern, as Plato had it (the results he inspired were disastrous), but at least we ought to fill our governments with people who are better versed in history and geography.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Words of the Year

The words of 2001.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Writing systems

Omniglot: A guide to writing systems. [via Plep]

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley