It’s Greek to Me! World Writing Systems Tell An Interesting Story
Some friends where showing me their copy of the Talmud, written in English, but still set out so the pages of the book open outward to the right, basically backwards from normal English language books. And that got us wondering what other languages went from right to left? And that then got me wondering about just how many separate forms of writing are still in use today. And that led me, of course, to Wikimedia Commons and this map of world writing systems.
Dang foreigners. Got a different word for everything!
(click map to enlarge)
The history of writing is in itself a fascinating tale. Some systems, like Korean and Cherokee are relatively modern inventions, purposely devised so specific populations would have their own alphabet and written history. Others evolved in the depths of pre-history, but for perhaps the same reasons, while others were adapted from other peoples over time, for practical purposes of trade, or imposed by a conqueror. And I must wonder how many people across Europe and the Americas would answer “Latin” when asked what system of writing they use.
And that reminds me of a favorite movie quote…
“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for US?”
This map of world writing systems and other versions, with notes in other languages, can be found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WritingSystemsoftheWorld.png