Jump to content
Ungod

Alphabet vs syllabary

Recommended Posts

Quick question: do you think an alphabet system is better than a syllabary?

All letters were ideograms at first, and i suspect they got refined into syllabaries in all languages and then - the third phase - alphabets were up (and not everywhere). 

Now, having signs for vowels and consonants might allow for more combinations, but is language supposed to cipher so much? Also, a consonant cannot be pronounced by itself - even an aspirated ones - and besides, why bother to speak like your tongue is stuck? 

Why am i asking this - i have the feeling (untested, but maybe i'll learn japanese or something) the computation power needed to individualize (when writing and reading) letters is greater than the one needed to individualize syllables. So is an alphabet better than a syllabary?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds like a reasonable proposition, but I would have trouble giving up the stumbling nature of English, where I can interpolate ideas that were in fact never intended...I'm not sure if that exact sort of thing works as well with other languages, since I only know a tiny amount of French (thanks education system...8 years, 1 hour a day, and all I can do is conjugate some verbs and recognize a few words!) and not much else.

It's why I love loose translations (at least since starting MD, I should give Mur his due credit), folks who don't necessarily have a full grasp of all the silly rules of grammar and spelling often (at least to my perception) bring out the best in my native tongue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did French for four years, two times a week and i'm at the same level as you. Maybe it's not the education system, it's ... French. hmm...

As for giving up alphabets...little chance. We can't just change history that easily; but i've been doing a reading exercise for a while and it just hit me that if i had syllable signs instead of letter signs, it would be easier. The meaning wouldn't be 'lesser' either. Now, i haven't tried it, and you certainly have to memorize all signs (abugida may be easier), and lose a lot of freedom, but you gain in the lesser effort needed afterwards, and maybe in the beauty of language. 

This isn't as much about grammar or spoken language,it's more about writing the language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many distinct syllables are there? And how much effort (and would it be prohibitive) would it take to memorize them?

For example, to solve the last layer of a Rubiks' Cube (at least with the generally accepted "standard" method) one must memorize 57 algorithms to orient the pieces and then 21 more to permute them properly, giving a total of 78 possibilities sorted through in a single look for each step (some with overlaps for similar cases that help ofc, I imagine language would mirror that aspect nicely) that many thousands if not millions of folks can and have memorized with some effort. I can't think of any other clear-cut example, chess comes to mind but you generally memorize things but alter strategy as you go in response to an opponent, doesn't ring as similar to language to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like how you come up with these interesting questions Ungod :)

I can't really compare alphabet with syllabary because the languages I use all use the latin/roman alphabet. However in regard to computational power needed "afterwards". We don't really read individual letters but rather letter combinations. Words, or sometimes even entire word strings. Based on that it seems that overall it takes less effort to use and alphabet. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Azull said:

I can't really compare alphabet with syllabary because the languages I use all use the latin/roman alphabet.

So do i. Which is why i'm so curious.

5 hours ago, Azull said:

 However in regard to computational power needed "afterwards". We don't really read individual letters but rather letter combinations. Words, or sometimes even entire word strings. Based on that it seems that overall it takes less effort to use and alphabet. 

About this...here's what i did. First, i read entire texts. Then, i mingled phrases (because after a while i saw that i memorized the text and it wasnt 'reading anymore'), cutting the logic of sentences. Finally, i mingled words.

Based on that, i can say that memory is very important in this process. It all starts when you learn thw letters, of course, and the visual side matters a lot. Afterwards, memory still affects the way you read texts, so much that in order to break down the complex patterns forming in my mind, i had to simplify to the extreme. Only this way you can have a fresh look at a text everytime you read something. Why a fresh look? Because you might want to replace the way memory works by destroying memorised patterns. 

What i did was simply read aloud texts in various languages, and tried to read without 'thinking'. And it's difficult identifying letters, stacked consonants and the way to pronounce them, also because in a word of, say, 5 syllables, due to double consonants, you have awkward breaks and many sounds. All in all, a syllabary serms to be harder at first and infinitely easier later, the opposite being said about alphabets. So is thrre an advantage of the alphabet that coyld compensate for its difficulty?

Maybe i'll learn hiragana, to check it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read something on the topic of "Information theory" in terms of Informatics/communication engineering i think that might help you to answer this question

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Forum Statistics

    15,897
    Total Topics
    173,947
    Total Posts
  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Upcoming Events

    No upcoming events found
  • Recent Event Reviews

×
×
  • Create New...