Let me clarify. I was definitely not saying that it is impossible for phonetic glyphs to originate from basic pictographs (as indeed, many Latin letters do), but that it's unlikely there won't be several non-basic ones <E> is supposed to come from the sign for Egyptian "jubilation", and <S> from "hunt".Sights wrote:Don't mean to take attention away from Chagen's budding script, but I have a noob question concerning what Clawgrip said...I thought that's exactly how a number of characters from the latin alphabet originated. Doesn't the current "A" shape trace its origins to a character resembling an ox head in Phoenician or Proto-sinaitic? My understanding (or total lack thereof) was that certain ideographs eventually became the phonetic characters for the sounds which made up the corresponding word in the first place (most often the first sound of said word, ASFAIK). What I guess Clawgrip is pointing at is that... it would be strange that only certain ideographs were "picked" instead of others, particularly when a complex logographic system was already in use? It sounds unlikely now that I think about it, but I thought the reason for this was that the ideographs concerned represented very basic dimensions of human life: things like "water", "sun", "house" and other words likely to come up in Swadesh lists and things like that. Am I mistaken?clawgrip wrote: Part 3
Every time I've seen someone design a conscript and show the characters from a logographic script that it supposedly descend from, the characters shown are invariably basic pictographs or ideographs. This simply isn't how it works. If a society has an entire functional logographic script from which to choose source characters for a syllabary, why would they seek out only basic pictographs or ideographs for this?
I ask because I'm developing a script too (an alphabet), and I thought that this logic was sound enough
Egyptian very early on developed phonetic writing based heavily on pictographs, and avoided compounding glyphs and this influenced a lot of scripts in the area, which is why a lot of Latin letters can be traced back to basic pictograms (although Cuneiform did take advantage of compounding). Chinese is quite different, because it didn't really develop a phonetic script and was heavily into compounding, so when hiragana was created, it borrowed from complex characters.
Let's try an example. Imagine, if you will, that English were written in a logographic script, and that a syllabary was slowly beginning to develop from it. If we think, what word would likely get used for the syllable /biː/, it would likely be "bee". You could use a pictograph of a bee, or maybe not. This is 蜂 in Chinese/Japanese, a compound character that does not contain a pictogram of a bee (but it has one of a snake!). If we were going to choose one for /beɪ/ we would probably choose the character for "bay". It could be a pictogram of a bay, but again, This is 灣/湾 in Chinese/Japanese, which also does not contain a pitogram of a bay (just one for water). If we chose a glyph for /teɪ/ we might go with "tame" (馴 in Chinese), "take" (取 in Chinese), etc.
Also, we should remember that the Swadesh list is about basic words and has nothing to do with writing. My main point is that already literate cultures are not necessarily going to choose from their most basic words when designing a phonetic writing system, they're probably going to choose whatever seems easiest to remember (like the glyph for "owe" in our hypothetical English logography is a natural choice for the syllable /oʊ/, even though the "owe" glyph would likely be complicated due to the difficulty of representing that concept visually), or whatever has most cultural significance, or whatever looks nicest.
I may have overstated somewhat. If we look at the basic phonetic pictographs for Egyptian, we see that a lot of them are relatively simple, not Swadesh-level basic, but still not compounded or anything.I ask because I'm developing a script too (an alphabet), and I thought that this logic was sound enough
Egyptian single consonant characters give us: vulture, reed leaf, arm, quail chick, leg, stool, horned viper, owl, water, mouth, reed shelter, wick, and so on.
Hiragana characters are a little more random and complicated, giving us: easy/safe, more than, eaves, clothing, at/in/on, add, how much, long time ago, plan/measure, self/I/you, left, of/this, unit of measurement, world, before/formerly, fat, know, river, heaven, stop, etc.