December 18, 2001 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Omniglot is a guide to writing systems, and it's flat-out awesome. It covers alphabetic writing systems (usual alphabets as well as abjads), syllabic alphabets and syllabaries, logograms, ideograms, semantic-phonetic compounds ... a milliard things I didn't know about. Plus there are big lists of examples from dozens of languages, from Abkhaz to Zhuyin fuhao. My favorite so far is Tai Lue - it's just so pretty. (link from Fimoculous)
posted by gleuschk (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have to agree. thith site kickth ath.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:56 AM on December 18, 2001

I like the Vinca symbols.
posted by walrus at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2001

Oy, my title tags seem to have gotten quartzed. I think the preview stripped all the quotes. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by gleuschk at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2001

What a fantastic site. And he even provides downloadable fonts! Amazing. Best link of the day.
posted by ColdChef at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2001

Wow. The site's author knows a lot of languages.
posted by chrismear at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2001

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.
posted by Foosnark at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2001

This is an amazing site - I've been looking for something like it for a long time. Many thanks!
posted by Chanther at 11:57 AM on December 18, 2001

Writing: you just can't beat it. Thanks, gleuschk. I wanted to spell wow in Southern Iberian but, just my luck, it hasn't been deciphered yet...!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2001

and he even invented his own script!
posted by ColdChef at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2001

It's a bit questionable in some cases--the "logographic" category is usually considered a little suspect by scholars of writing systems, and there's no entry for hiragana/katakana under syllabaries (though they correctly describe them as such in the entry on Japanese in the logographic section), and some of the information oversimplifies a little bit. But, absent in-depth research, this is a good starting point for info on writing systems.
posted by rodii at 12:11 PM on December 18, 2001


I've been dreading your take on this, rodii. Glad to hear it's not utter hoo-ha.
posted by gleuschk at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2001

Oh Graham, you wound me. I mean, it's great! It rules!

I'm always happy to see Burmese (the most beautiful script of 'em all) on the web.
posted by rodii at 12:36 PM on December 18, 2001

Erm. Perhaps "dreading" was a bit strong. I did have this "O-crap" flash as I hit post, though. All better now. (Though I still think Tai Lue kicks Burmese's ass any day.)
posted by gleuschk at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2001

Wow, this site is a bookmark. The author writes fairly extensively on Chinese, and it seems consistent with what I studied when I was in Taiwan. I hadn't realized that there were quite this many writing systems in existence. The author could have brought up some other scripts, such as those used in mathematical logic, but I suppose they're a little beside they point since the vocabulary is limited. Anyway, great link. Thanks.
posted by Loudmax at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2001

Loudmax, you may enjoy the Unicode charts, then. Everything from Deseret to Bopomofo Extended, including Byzantine Musical Symbols, Mathematical Operators, and the IPA. (All links but the first go to PDFs.)
posted by rodii at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2001

For completeness' sake, although Unicode doesn't support all scripts, it does lots, and there are more proposed, including:

* Cham
* Tai (Dai) scripts
* Glagolitic
* Coptic
* Buginese
* Old Hungarian
* Phoenician
* Avestan
* Tifinagh (Berber)
* Javanese
* Lepcha (Rong)
* Basic Egyptian Hieroglyphics
* Meroitic
* Old Persian Cuneiform
* Tengwar
* Cirth
* Brahmi
* Old Permic
* South Arabian
* Pollard
* Blissymbolics
* Soyombo

This world has (and doesn't have) many scripts. Quenya nerds, rejoice!
posted by rodii at 1:06 PM on December 18, 2001

It's a shame his personal script lacks the x-height variations that makes mixed-case latin characters so easy to read... that said, I'm still blown away.
posted by silusGROK at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2001

speaking of quenya: the elvish languages

also cool are teresh's constructed languages and worlds, including borg and borg scripts.
posted by kliuless at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2001

Well, if you're going to allow that sort of thing, you've got to deal with people who invent a language for an imaginary race of flying cats. Think carefully about the consequences.

Nice links (the Unicode stuff), rodii.
posted by gleuschk at 2:33 PM on December 18, 2001

Damn you, rodii, you beat me to the punch about Burmese: I share your sentiments and have ever since looking into Godel, Escher, Bach... I'm a little leery on the take here on Basque, though. Seems to me that there's a small population or two in the Caucausus that speaks a relative tongue and that both have a similarity to Sumerian. Of course, that depends upon your opinion of Proto-World and Nostratic theories of super-languages, about which I know next to nothing...

And it invalidates Sterling Lanier's delightful Brigadier Ffellowes story on Basquery which had them as cave painting Cro Magnon relicts, the title of which escapes me just now...
posted by y2karl at 4:14 PM on December 18, 2001

Burmese is in Godel, Escher, Bach? That...astounds me. I thought I knew just about everything that had ever been written on Burmese* in English, and I've in theory read GEB. How'd that get past me?

(I am very very skeptical of the whole Basque-Caucasian-Sumerian-Elamite-Harappan-Na-Dene thing. I have talked to/studied with the some of the main proponents thereof (Starostin/Shevoroshkin), but I'm no expert.)

*useless footnote: Burmese was the subject of my Ph.D. thesis.
posted by rodii at 4:59 PM on December 18, 2001

I've in theory read GEB

I have in fact barely glanced at it myself but it seems to me there was a section on various scripts.

Wow, Dr. Rodii's thesis on Burmese: I am ever more impressed with your eudition.

And so maybe the Cro Magnon riff wasn't necessarily invalidated, hmm...
posted by y2karl at 5:31 PM on December 18, 2001

Wow, Dr. Rodii's thesis on Burmese: I am ever more impressed with your eudition.

Well, I'm pretty sure we've reached the bottom of it now.
posted by rodii at 5:40 PM on December 18, 2001

Well, I wasn't being a smarty, it was well meant--and as for your erudition, bottom or not, my hat, at least, is off...
posted by y2karl at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2001

Neither was I! I just meant, how much more obscure can we get? But enough about me... How about that Cree syllabary?
posted by rodii at 7:31 PM on December 18, 2001

I just want the monitor pictured on the main page...
posted by bingo at 8:59 AM on December 19, 2001

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