Alex Fink wrote: > (kinda was: Viisyal.) > > How surprised should we be that alphabets are dominant on earth today? > To put it another way, alphabets (and abugidas and the like) are > conscripters' favourites; is this another feature we should regard as > overdone compared to what's natural? > > Writing has only been invented two to five times, so take it with a > block of salt when I say "usual", but the usual thing seems to be that > writing systems develop as logographies, run up against the problem > that pure logographies are unlearnably vast, and relax to a mixed > logographic-phonetic system by the rebus principle. But a single > consonant doesn't make a very good rebus key, so this process > generally descends only to the level of a syllabary. > > Thus Mayan is basically a CV syllabary, emically, and the main line of > development of cuneiform is a CV / VC one. Chinese appears to have > survived as a pretty logographic logography but that's mostly because > of the standardising apparatus of the state; in the first millennium > BC I understand it was much more truly phonetic, and one character > could serve for sets of near-homonyms without semantic components to > distinguish. Anyway it's a CVC syllabary; probably it couldn't go > further on account that Chinese phonology doesn't lend itself to > analyses where one word forms part of another word. Japanese and Yi > and probably others I'm forgetting turned it CV. I do like the CV/VC option ... I may consider it for other languages that I haven't discovered yet. Maybe Jarda could have been written in a CV/VC script before they adopted the Ņör script. The Sangari scripts are even more unnatural in this sense in that they're featural. As such, it seems likely that they were deliberately invented rather than being evolved from earlier writing systems. The prototype may have been something like an early form of the Tharkania script (https://www.prismnet.com/~hmiller/png/tharkania.png), and you can see the relationships most clearly in the vowels: https://www.prismnet.com/~hmiller/png/tharkania-vowels.png (Tharkania) https://www.prismnet.com/~hmiller/png/njoerr-vowels.png (Ņör) https://www.prismnet.com/~hmiller/png/kjaginic-vowels.png (Kjaginits) https://www.prismnet.com/~hmiller/png/teascript-vowels.png (Seŋatai) Now if alphabets are really that uncommon, could it be possible that Sangari writing went straight from syllabic writing to a phonetic featural system, skipping over the alphabetic stage entirely? That could be pretty cool if it could happen. Maybe musicians, needing a way to notate the sounds of speech in music, came up with the system.