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made-to-order alphabets

From:dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 28, 1999, 4:35
On Mon, 27 Sep 1999, Nik Taylor wrote:

> Adam Parrish wrote: > > Quick question on ordering schemes for alphabets: is it > > necessary to have one? For some reason it strikes me that the Talin (the > > writing system for Doraya) doesn't really have any particular "order," > > and that the thought of sequencing them would seem odd to the speakers > > of Doraya. Is it a required thing for alphabetic systems to have a > > perceived "order"? Does something similar happen in other writing > > systems (e.g., syllabaries)? > > Well, many times, when a writing system is ordered, it's just a > conventional order, a mnemonic aid, and it's not used for ordering. I > don't know if all systems have one conventional order, there might be > some alphabets/syllabries with variable order. > > As for syllabries, an example is Japanese, which orders the kana by > consonant and vowel, so that, for instance, vowel-only ones are first, a > i u e o, then ka ki ku ke ko, then s-, t-, n-, h-, m-, y-, r-, w-, and > syllabic n.
In Bright and Daniels _The World's Writing Systems_ there is mention made of a poem, attibuted to the Buddhist monk Kuukai, which uses each character of hiragana exactly once. It runs (in English transliteration): Iro wa nioedo chirinuru wo waga yo tare zo tsune naran ui no okuyama kyoo koete asaki yume miji ei mo sezu "The colorful [flowers] are fragrant, but they must fall. Who in this world can live forever? Today corss over the deep mountains of life's illusions and there will be no more shallow dreaming, no more drunkenness." (Bright and Daniels, p250) I've always thought that this was "way cool", and should by all means be emulated; not only should the characters in a writing system be arranged in a mnemonically advantageous way, but the arrangement ought to mean something! Dirk -- Dirk Elzinga "All grammars leak." -Edward Sapir