Log in

No account? Create an account
Happy Saints Cyril and Methodius' Day - Bela Lugosi's Dead, Jim
February 14th, 2016
11:04 pm
[User Picture]


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Happy Saints Cyril and Methodius' Day

Since it’s the feast of day Saints Cyril and Methodius, it occurred to me to wonder who else has a script named after them. pseudomonas chipped in and we came up with the following:

  • Tironian notes, a shorthand system attributed to a Roman scribe called Marcus Tullius Tiro from the 1st century BCE. This seems to be an alphabetic system with an aggressively compositional character leading a large number of distinct signs. It was used in medieval Europe.
  • The Manichaean alphabet (technically an abjad), a descendant of the Aramaic script used in the Persian empire (the original one that caused classical Greece so much trouble) and supposedly the creation of the prophet Mani. Mani was the founder of Manichaeism, an early competitor to Christianity that failed to attach itself to any imperial power and seems to have subsequently been persecuted out of existence.
  • Cyrillic, a C9th descendant of the Greek alphabet attributed to the brothers Cyril and Methodius, a traditional attribution apparently supported by explicit reference in a papal bull that unfortunately I can’t find a copy of (much less translation into something I understand). It remains widely used for Slavic languages.
  • Braille was invented by Louise Braille in the C19th as an improvement on the unusably difficult Night writing, originally invented for the purposes of silent communication among soldiers. I often see this in public places and of course the use case has not gone away.
  • Pitman shorthand, invented by Isaac Pitman in the C19th as a phonetically system for writing quickly. Gregg shorthand and Duployan shorthand also date from the same era and there seem to be a number of other shorthands with people’s names attached, and I lost interest chasing down variations on this particular theme. I’m not sure how widely used these systems are any more.

Things that didn’t quite make it:

  • Ogham, an early medieval Irish script attested from the C4th but probably somewhat older. Mythologically attributed to the god Ogma. I rejected this because I wanted people with scripts named after them, not scripts with a probably fictitious attribution to someone who didn’t actually exist.
  • The Gupta script, used for writing in Sanskrit in the Gupta Empire in India (roughly contemporary with the Roman Empire). The script is only indirectly named for an individual - in fact is is named for the empire, which is in turn named after the Gupta dynasty. I rejected Georgian scripts for the same reason.

pseudomonas is mentioning more on IRC but it’s getting late…


(8 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 10:27 am (UTC)
Great post :)

I'll just add the little-known Claudian alphabet (it really didn't catch on).

And that Wikipedia entry reminded me of the Zetian characters too.

Edited at 2016-02-15 10:27 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 11:39 am (UTC)
Gosh, that Zetian one reads like serious hubris. (also the circle one looks ugly in the context of the writing style, but that's just to my eyes ;) )
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 11:22 am (UTC)
My notes were mainly instances of C19 missionaries developing scripts (for hitherto unwritten or unprinted languages) which then bore their names. e.g. Fraser, Pollard.

Shavian, which never took off but is quite cute. Blissymbolics, even cuter and even less practical.


Moon is probably in the same box as Braille; there was some argument as to where a script stops and a hand/typeface begins - Rashi script and Carolingian minuscule fell probably on the wrong side of that; but I think it's a bit like the language/dialect argument.

Edited at 2016-02-15 11:30 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 11:40 am (UTC)
Is Morse Code even a script at all?
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 01:15 pm (UTC)
I think morse goes in the same bucket as ASCII or Unicode (or perhaps representations of Unicode).
[User Picture]
Date:February 15th, 2016 04:07 pm (UTC)
– • – – • • • •
Date:February 23rd, 2016 09:52 pm (UTC)
Pedantically, it wasn't SS Cyril and Meth, due to it being a Sunday in Lent.
[User Picture]
Date:February 24th, 2016 08:55 am (UTC)
I didn't know that rule, thankyou.
(I see that Orthodox Lent is later, but I didn't know that when making the posting either.)
I deny everything Powered by LiveJournal.com