Alphabets of the world

I keep running into interesting scripts and alphabets these days: Elvish, Tamil, Malayalam. Recently I came across this site: Alphabets of the World. I would have been in heaven if I’d had access to such a thing as a seventh grader. I remember going to the great big library at the local university as a kid and looking for resources like this. Codes and secret languages a common enough geek-boy pastime, but there’s also a deep-seated and universal appeal to exotic-looking hieroglyphics. They embody and radiate the notion that meaning is present yet hidden from view, which is itself a pretty good working definition of that hard-to-pin-down word mystery. Unknown glyphs reek of the mysterious.

Back on a more mundane plane, the Alphabets of the World site offers many practical explanations. Have you ever wanted a compact explanation of why Arabic writing looks the way it does? Want to learn the story of the origins of Cherokee or Korean scripts? This is a good place to visit.

Finally, lest I be accused of being too focused on the way languages look when written, here is a site that details (obsessively) how one particular English phrase sounds when spoken by people from all over the world: speech accent archive. It’s fun to browse around. I found the person from North Carolina, and sure enough, that woman could have grown up next door to me.

One thought on “Alphabets of the world”

  1. The speech archive is fascinating. It reminds me of demonstrations that my phonetics professor gave at university. He’s a native Greek speaker, and has the accent to prove it, but can probably duplicate any of these speakers perfectly. Well, the men, at least.

    Here’s an observation. I noticed that some of the speakers enunciated “we will” in full, while some contracted to “we’ll.” Is that a regionalism? Do speakers from particular regions tend to contract more than others? Or is it more of a “personal” phenomenon?

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