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Discussion: What IS an altscript? And how is it classified?

 
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StrangeMagic
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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 8:36 pm    Post subject: Discussion: What IS an altscript? And how is it classified? Reply with quote

This was a really interesting question posted by Eldin Raigmore.

eldin raigmore wrote:

BTW what's an "altscript"?
Is there a classification scheme for neographies/constructed scripts?
How about:
1. Can be used for a natlang vs not intended for any natlang.
2. Intended mostly for human language(s) vs intended mostly for non-human language(s).
3. Intended to reflect a spoken language vs intended to reflect a language with some other medium of transmission, for instance, a sign-language.
4.
  1. mostly logograms/ideograms (most individual characters represent morphemes and most morphemes are represented by individual characters)?
  2. syllabary (most individual characters represent syllables and most syllables are represented by individual characters)?
  3. alphabet (most individual characters represent phoneme-segments and most phoneme-segments are represented by individual characters -- vowels are represented independently, on a footing equal to that of consonants)
  4. abugida (each character represents a consonant; and also a syllable, usually a CV syllable beginning with that consonant. The vowel is inherent in the character; a different vowel is shown by a diacritical mark, as is the lack of any vowel)
  5. abjad (each character represents a consonant; vowels are mostly not represented, and are left for the reader to guess. Sometimes the choice of a vowel is narrowed down by a diacritical mark; and some consonant characters can stand in for some vowels with the assistance of a diacritical mark; but these matres lectiones are omissible and frequently omitted)?
  6. featurography (each of the distinctive features of a phoneme segment is represented the same way on the characters for different phonemes.)?
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Serali
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is indeed interesting.
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, of the scripts posted here so far, how would their creators classify them in the above scheme?

And what about anyone's other scripts they haven't posted here yet?

Does anyone know of any scripts -- there own, or others -- which have what they think are important characteristics or features that aren't covered in the above scheme?

How would anyone like to see that scheme improved? (For instance, I'd like names for the choices in parts 1 and 2 and 3; and a name for the general type of choice in 4 (if "What is this script's X?" would be answered as "This script is a logography" or "this script is a syllabary" or "this script is an abugida" or "this script is a featurography", then, what word should replace "X"? ).)

Would anyone like to just scrap that scheme and start over? How would you start?
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Serali
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I have over 100 scripts English ciphers and conscripts and some are syllabaries, Abugidas, Alphabets, Logographic scripts etc. So that's how I would classify them if I had too.
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StrangeMagic
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW what's an "altscript"?
Is there a classification scheme for neographies/constructed scripts?

Well to me an altscript is that it is both for a natlang or a conlang. It basically says 'alternative script' to me, and 'alternative' just means a different way to write a conscript. However, this is not the usual way to write it, eg. a different writing system. For example, if Chinese was written with Hanja, an altscript for it would be to write it in Latin.

This means that it is just any script that is an alternative for a usual script for a conlang/natlang. Be it, sign language, pictograms etc.

Logogram - They would be a bit like Chinese, but maybe has more representation to the thing it is showing. Mainly pictures, but simplified.

Syllabary - Any script that has different characters for each possible consonant(s)-vowel cluster

Alphabet - Each letter shows a different phoneme, for vowels and consonants.

Abugida and Abjad - I agree with your descriptions

Featurography - I'm unsure about this.

Therefore, most of my scripts will be classed as alphabet altscripts/conscripts.

Conscripts are solely for the conlang.
Altscripts, codes, ciphers are alternative writing systems for the natlang/conlang.

(This information is just my opinion, therefore I doubt it will be right.)
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Serali
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 'alt' is short for alternative script ( s ).

www.omniglot.com/writing/alternative.htm
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies so far.
I assume everyone has seen Omniglot's one-page summaries of various conscripts.
Look at the "Notable Features" section on each such page.
Would we like to systematize the questions they answer? Find those that have answers for most conscripts/neographies/etc., and organize them?

Also, there are other places where Omniglot considers questions we might want to ask about most conscripts.

For instance, their first page has:
Abjads,
Alphabets,
Syllabic alphabets, (by which they mean what I called an "abugida")
Syllabaries,
Semanto-phonetic scripts, (such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, or Chinese)
Undeciphered,
Alternative,
Direction index,
Your scripts,
A-Z index,
Language index

Clearly abjads, alphabets, syllabaries are things we've discussed recently on this board.
Writing-direction is another interesting feature.

They also have the following:
Only conlangs written with invented scripts will be considered for inclusion on this site.
Constructed scripts for Chinese languages
Constructed scripts for English
Constructed scripts for Korean
Constructed scripts for Tagalog
Constructed scripts for other natural languages
Constructed scripts for constructed languages
Phonetic scripts
Adaptations of existing alphabets

So;
*what language is the script for
*is that a conlang or a natlang
*is this script an adaptation of an existing alphabet
*is this script phonetic

are also interesting questions, and notable features.
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StrangeMagic
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So;
*what language is the script for
*is that a conlang or a natlang
*is this script an adaptation of an existing alphabet
*is this script phonetic


Hmm.. the first one seems to be a little ambiguous, what do you want us to answer actually? A script can be for any language, be it a modification in Arabic for English or Chinese for German.

A conlang is what someone has come up with, I can see how this is ambiguous aswell as all languages were created, however, for a natlang, I believe it needs to certified to be a language of Earth, not a conworld.

From the first answer I gave, it leads me to answer this, I'm unsure of what we would call this, a modified-natscript? An adapted-natscript?

Again, I'm unsure of what you mean by this fourth one...
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

StrangeMagic wrote:
Quote:
So;
*what language is the script for
*is that a conlang or a natlang
*is this script an adaptation of an existing alphabet
*is this script phonetic


Hmm.. the first one seems to be a little ambiguous, what do you want us to answer actually? A script can be for any language, be it a modification in Arabic for English or Chinese for German.
Answer if you think a single answer is most informative / least misleading; otherwise, say "ambiguous" or don't answer or write more than one sentence. For instance, for this alphabet here, the short answer would be "Latin". A longer answer would be "the basis, with modifications, for the main scripts for a large number of Western European languages, including e.g. English, French, Spanish, Italian, and others".

StrangeMagic wrote:
A conlang is what someone has come up with, I can see how this is ambiguous aswell as all languages were created, however, for a natlang, I believe it needs to certified to be a language of Earth, not a conworld.
By "conlang" we usually mean planned languages, or designed languages; languages that were "come up with" by one person, or a small number of people, through a process that didn't chiefly consist of "just using the language", and in a much shorter time than a single generation. "Natlangs" are, in a manner of speaking, "come up with"; but they are not "constructed" in any usual sense of the word "constructed"; they certainly aren't "planned" nor "designed".

StrangeMagic wrote:
From the first answer I gave, it leads me to answer this, I'm unsure of what we would call this, a modified-natscript? An adapted-natscript?
"This"? Which script are you talking about? I can't see any reason to prefer an answer without knowing a bit more about the particular script you are talking about.

StrangeMagic wrote:
Again, I'm unsure of what you mean by this fourth one...
If you have one character per phoneme and one phoneme per character -- that is, characters and phonemes are assigned to one another in a one-to-one-correspondence, such that the same character stands for the same phoneme (and vice versa) regardless of any other circumstances -- then your script is phonetic (and probably also an alphabet.)


What you might have thought I meant (but I didn't) is worth talking about too.
Logographies tend to be "semantic-phonetic", like Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese script.
Most characters consist of a radical and a determiner.
Questions that can have different answers:
(1) Is there a semantic radical and a phonetic determiner (like Chinese), or a phonetic radical and a semantic determiner? (Usually one answer applies to the whole script, or to almost all of it; but in some scripts a good fraction of characters will go the other way from the majority.
(2) Which comes first, the radical or the determiner?
(3) What does "first" mean? (a) top (b) bottom (c) left (d) right (e) inside (f) outside (g) other -- please specify
(4) Does the phonetic part have the same onset and nucleus, but not necessarily the same coda; or the same rime (nucleus and coda), but not necessarily the same onset; as the syllable meant by the whole character?
(5) Is the script like Chinese's in that, even though the onset or the coda (whichever it is) needn't be the same, it will probably share a significant number of distinctive features?
(6) How does the script handle two-or-more-syllable words?
(7) Do any of the above questions not have an answer that is constant across the whole script for each particular language that uses that script?
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

StrangeMagic wrote:
BTW what's an "altscript"?
Is there a classification scheme for neographies/constructed scripts?

Well to me an altscript is that it is both for a natlang or a conlang. It basically says 'alternative script' to me, and 'alternative' just means a different way to write a conscript. However, this is not the usual way to write it, eg. a different writing system. For example, if Chinese was written with Hanja, an altscript for it would be to write it in Latin.
I think we're close to agreeing that Omniglot's definition is the correct one to use; and we're close to agreeing that Omniglot thinks "altscript" means "a conscript meant for a natlang that is not any of the natscripts usually used for that natlang".

StrangeMagic wrote:
This means that it is just any script that is an alternative for a usual script for a conlang/natlang. Be it, sign language, pictograms etc.
Natlangs, yes. The "altscript" classification probably doesn't apply to any script intended for a conlang.

StrangeMagic wrote:
Logogram - They would be a bit like Chinese, but maybe has more representation to the thing it is showing. Mainly pictures, but simplified.
Mostly, yes. "logography/ideography" is when nearly every individual character represents an individual morpheme and nearly every individual morpheme is represented by an individual character.
Logographies and ideographies tend to consist of characters that are semantic/phonetic, radical/determiner compounds (visual, graphemic compounds, not "compound words".) Usually they'll be systems of semantic radicals with phonetic determiners -- like Chinese's -- or phonetic radicals with semantic determiners. Mostly these work for languages whose words are one morpheme each (isolating, analytic languages), and whose morphemes are nearly all single-syllable morphemes. The full characters that consist of only a radical, or only a determiner, are recognizable pictures representing words that have only one meaning and only one pronunciation. They're in the minority, but they are the basis for all the other characters. The semantic part of most characters gives a hint or clue to its meaning, or pins down its "general area" semantically; the phonetic part gives a hint or clue to its sound -- usually it's a syllable with the same onset and nucleus and a similar-but-not-the-same coda, or one with the same rime (nucleus and coda) and a similar-but-not-the-same onset.

StrangeMagic wrote:
Syllabary - Any script that has different characters for each possible consonant(s)-vowel cluster
Rignt.

StrangeMagic wrote:
Alphabet - Each letter shows a different phoneme, for vowels and consonants.
Especially true for phonetic alphabets. Some alphabets that well deserve to be called alphabets violate these rules to a more-or-less minor degree; for example, English "ch" "ph" "qu" "sh" "th" "wh" "zh" all have two characters for just one sound; and "a" "c" "e" "g" "i" "o" "u" can all be pronounced two different ways; and "x" is one letter for two sounds. Still, the script is an alphabet.

StrangeMagic wrote:
Abugida and Abjad - I agree with your descriptions


StrangeMagic wrote:
Featurography - I'm unsure about this.
Hangul; Alexander Melville Bell's Visible Speech; and some other systems, have the same distinctive feature represented the same way on different letters. For instance, if a conscript had a bunch of voiced-unvoiced phoneme-pairs, and always had a horizontal bar halfway across the middle of every unvoiced phoneme but not of any voiced phoneme, that would be a "featurographic feature" (sorry) of that script. If almost all letters were composed almost entirely of such marks, that would be a "featurography".

StrangeMagic wrote:
Therefore, most of my scripts will be classed as alphabet altscripts/conscripts.

Conscripts are solely for the conlang.
Altscripts, codes, ciphers are alternative writing systems for the natlang/conlang.

(This information is just my opinion, therefore I doubt it will be right.)
Kind of makes sense. I agree with you.

A "code" is kind of like a conlang; it's a designed/planned language made to substitute for a natlang, and usually it's just a relex of that natlang. It's design doesn't include anything esthetic like "pretty" or "pleasing", nor anything like "naturalistic", though; it's designed purely for either economy or secrecy.

A "cipher" is kind of like an altscript; it's an alternative way of writing a natlang (or a code). It's design and planning doesn't include anything esthetic, however; for one thing, usually no new characters are designed -- rather, old characters are merely re-assigned. It's usually designed mostly for secrecy, sometimes somewhat for economy too or instead.
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Serali
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a cipher using the keyboard for english:

English Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Cipher Text:

Q W E R T Y U I O P A S D F G H J K L Z X C V B N M

One using the alphabet backwards:

English Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Cipher Text:

Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A

And one using numbers:

English Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Cipher Text:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Those are the ones that I used to pass notes in class to my friends when we were supposed be doing our work.... Twisted Evil
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, those are common ciphers, alright.
Zft, uiptf bsf dpmmpo djqifst, bmsjhiu.
Xdr, sgnrd zqd bnllnn bhogdqr, zkqhfgs.


A very common code, otoh, is a page-number/line-number pair to pick a word out of a dictionary. If the sender's dictionary is identical to the receiver's, this will work for anything except proper nouns and very, very specialized or rare words; whether or not it's actually better than sending in clear, depends on circumstances.
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know more. But the one that I use is called the pig pen cipher for obvious reasons. I'll show it to you tomorrow since the guy couldn't come today since the weather is horrible.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serali wrote:
I know more. But the one that I use is called the pig pen cipher for obvious reasons. I'll show it to you tomorrow since the guy couldn't come today since the weather is horrible.

I'm guessing here, but:
It uses boxes and/or diamonds, of which sometimes only two, sometimes three, and sometimes all four sides are shown (if not all sides are shown, it matters which ones are there and which ones are missing); and they may be empty, or contain one dot, or contain two dots. Think of the boxes or diamonds as "pens" and of the dots as "pigs". Is that right?

(If so, see if you believe this):
Sorry, I've never heard of it. Razz
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've got most of it right. Also I made my own versions of it too including a cursive version ( to be up soon) But here are the 2 classic versions:




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