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Languages written with more than one script
Posted: 22 April 2008 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]
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With regard to languages commonly, or officially, written in more than one script:

I can think of Hindi/Urdu and Serbo-croatian. Are there others?

Without wanting to engage in speculative fiction...would Maltese be considered a dialect of Arabic were it not for the fact that it is written in the Latin alphabet?

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Posted: 22 April 2008 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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But both of your examples are of two technically different languages. And aren’t there more differences between Hindi and Urdu than the script?

You’re on more solid ground with Serbo-Croatian, though even when Yugoslavia existed there were those who insisted that the languages were separate, although according to a Croatian I knew the main difference was palatisation in words like mleko and a few vocabulary preferences.

I’ve had a brief look at the Wiki article, which deals with Bosnian as well, and seems fairly comprehensive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differences_in_standard_Serbian,_Croatian_and_Bosnian

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Posted: 22 April 2008 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As to your original question:

Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, is usually written in Hebrew letters, though I’ve come across references to it being written in Arabic script, and in the Latin alphabet in the 20th century.

Azerbaijani, which you mention on your other thread, has a more complicated history than your post would indicate. It was originally written in three different varieties of Arabic script, adopted the Latin alphabet in the 1920s, had Cyrillic imposed upon it by Stalin and has now gone back to the Latin alphabet.

Georgian has had a number of scripts in its history, and although mkhedruli is now the main one, it’s described ominously as ’almost completely dominant’ by Wiki, and I’ve seen references to attempts to introduce upper and lower case (a distinction that mkhedruli lacks) from archaic alphabets.

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Posted: 22 April 2008 08:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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"And aren’t there more differences between Hindi and Urdu than the script?”

Nothing serious, it seems, apart from some vocab differences: mutual intelligibility is said to be high, with differences between the standard forms of Hindi and Urdu comparable to the differences within the bucket of dialects called Hindi. I ain’t no expert, that’s just what I’ve read.

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Posted: 23 April 2008 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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And aren’t there more differences between Hindi and Urdu than the script?

Very much so.  On an everyday level, for market/street use, they’re virtually indistinguishable (I like the old term “Hindustani” for this common base), but the higher up the cultural scale you go, the more different they become; I suspect two people trying to discuss philosophy or literature, one in Hindi and the other in Urdu, would find it virtually impossible to communicate.

All of the Central Asian languages of the former Soviet Union have had multiple alphabets within living memory.

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Posted: 23 April 2008 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Japanese has multiple scripts. Kanji is the original one, consisting of Chinese characters. There are two major kana systems, hiragana and katakana, both simplified systems of kanji. Wikipedia says that today katakana is largely limited to specialized uses, like writing foreign words and in company names.

There are also several systems of transcription into Latin letters, known as romaji.

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Posted: 23 April 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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In principle, Japanese can be written in pure kanji (using purely phonetic kanji when necessary: I’m not sure whether the average educated Japanese could readily read this), or in pure katakana, or in pure hiragana, or in pure Latin alphabet. In practice, all four character sets are intermixed routinely, even at the most elementary level (e.g., simple personal letters, street signs) (except for educational books for small children) (Latin alphabet typically not used to spell words in text, though ... used in signs, logos, acronyms, and in lists and groupings [e.g., “section A”, “blood type O"]).

In typical modern Japanese text, conventional use of katakana instead of hiragana is somewhat (not perfectly) analogous to conventional use of italics in English text: katakana are used for ‘foreign’ words (and there are a LOT of ‘foreign’ words in modern Japanese!), for sound effects, for emphasis, for biological/technical terms, etc. The writer can choose to ignore the orthographic conventions, just as one can write whatever one pleases in italics or all-caps without changing the sense.

It’s not (AFAIK) like Serbocroatian or Hindi-Urdu where the choice of orthography tends to follow regional/ethnic/political lines.

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Posted: 23 April 2008 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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AIUI Sanskrit can be written in any of the 11 scripts of the subcontinent, including Tibetan and Sinhala.

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Posted: 23 April 2008 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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"Japanese has multiple scripts. “

D’oh! Of course…

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Posted: 23 April 2008 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Contemporary Greek was officially written in polytonic—i.e. complete with accents and breathing marks—until the Greek government in 1982 sneaked a bill abolishing polytonic script in a post-midnight parliamentary session attended by only a handful of drowsy, bedandruffed, turtleneck-clad socialist MPs. Ironically, their argument at the time was that computers could not handle polytonic stript. The bill was ratified by the late conservative President Constantine Caramanlis, whose disdain for linguistic heritage was also revealed by his suggestion to scrap the Greek alphabet altogether in favor of Latin, for the sake of modernization !

As a result of this ill-conceived law, passed by uncultured politicians of no vision, many centuries of linguistic heritage were sadly uprooted. An entire generation of Greeks can no longer write a simple sentence using the script used by Odysseas Elytis (1979 Nobel Prize in Literature).

[ Edited: 23 April 2008 08:36 PM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 24 April 2008 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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That’s not a sensible reaction.  What it really means is that an entire generation of Greeks (and, thankfully, all the generations to come) can write their own language without constantly referring to a manual (or having to fear being accused of illiteracy).  It’s comparable to the reform of Russian spelling in 1917, which enabled Russians to write their own language without constantly having to wonder “is that written with e or yat?” The omission of a few differently slanted accents hardly counts as a barbarian massacre of the language (or, for that matter, a change of script).

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Posted: 24 April 2008 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Another thing I’ve noticed about Japanese is that they don’t give a damn about adopting loanwords unlike the French. There are some great ones such as ‘sebiro” = a fancy suit in the style of London’s Savile Row; “lolicom” = paedophile from lolita complex; “seku hara” = sexual harassment; ‘romansu grey” = desirable older man with grey hair (from romance); “viking” = buffet, presumably from everyone grabbing food unrestrainedly.

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Posted: 24 April 2008 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I believe Yiddish was written using Latin (perhaps Gothic?) characters until the Age of Enlightenmemt (18th century or so) when there was a changeover to Hebrew script, with “aleph” and “ayin” being used for the voowels A and E respectively.

I know nothing of earler usage regarding Ladino; however, in Israel today, official publications (including a periodical) in Ladino are written in Latin characters. with an avoidance of regional dialect words; this last is in order to make these publications equally comprehensible, as far as possible, to Ladino speakers from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece,etc.  To a modern Spanish speaker (e.g.myself) these publications are more than 90% comprehensible, though the orthography may seem a little strange at times.

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Posted: 24 April 2008 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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languagehat - 24 April 2008 06:08 AM

That’s not a sensible reaction.  What it really means is that an entire generation of Greeks (and, thankfully, all the generations to come) can write their own language without constantly referring to a manual (or having to fear being accused of illiteracy).  It’s comparable to the reform of Russian spelling in 1917, which enabled Russians to write their own language without constantly having to wonder “is that written with e or yat?” The omission of a few differently slanted accents hardly counts as a barbarian massacre of the language (or, for that matter, a change of script).

I beg to disagree with you. The rules of polytonic script are fairly simple, and I (as well as all of my classmates) had mastered them by 4th grade. Furthermore, the polytonic system is a powerful linguistic aid for discerning homonyms with divergent etymology. All of that is now lost much to the chagrin of people whose outlook and aspirations are not defined by the least common denominator.

[ Edited: 24 April 2008 01:07 PM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 24 April 2008 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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lionello - 24 April 2008 11:37 AM

I believe Yiddish was written using Latin (perhaps Gothic?) characters until the Age of Enlightenmemt (18th century or so) when there was a changeover to Hebrew script, with “aleph” and “ayin” being used for the voowels A and E respectively.

I don’t think so. As far as I know, it’s been written in Hebrew script since the 13th century. The only Yiddish text I’ve ever seen in Latin characters was a book of anecdotes owned by my mother and produced for people like her, as she spoke Yiddish as a child but never learned to read either Hebrew or Yiddish, which is why I didn’t mention it in my post.

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Posted: 24 April 2008 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I think that Kurwy is right.  This page seems to have it right

From the 13th century they started to use the Hebrew script to write their language, which linguists refer to as Judeo-German or occasionally Proto-Yiddish. The earliest known fragment of Judeo-German is a rhyming couplet in a Hebrew prayer book dating from 1272 or 1273.

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