Pan-Germanic Logograms

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HoskhMatriarch
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Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

OK, I heard before that the main reason people consider Chinese a language is "because all the writing for Mandarin, Cantonese, and the other 'dialects' is the same, they all use Chinese characters". Then I thought, what would it be like if a bunch of really obviously not the same, but related languages had a logographic system, would people who know one of those languages be able to read considerable amounts of another one that's not particularly mutually intelligible? I decided it'd be the most interesting for me to do it for Germanic, since I speak two Germanic languages and have studied other ones so I'd be able to compare them pretty well. The plan is to make a bunch of logograms for Proto-Germanic, then make them be really conservative (for example, the logogram for foot, Fuß, and fod are going to be the same, and feet, Füße and fødder will also be written as if they were fōtiz) and come down all the way to all the modern Germanic languages (but probably not only modern Germanic languages). I don't intend to make a complete logographic system for people to use though, since that would be hard and pointless, just to find something short like the North Wind and the Sun and do it in a bunch of different Germanic languages like English, High German, Dutch, Icelandic, Gothic, Scots, Frisian, and whatever else with logograms and see if they're similar enough that "Germanic is a language because we all use Germanic logograms (in Germanic Logogram World, not the normal world) and can read each other's things, even if other people put their words in funny orders". This will probably lead to some hilarious things, like possibly gender still being marked on English articles since the writing system is so conservative even though we don't have gender on our words anymore.
Last edited by HoskhMatriarch on 16 Sep 2015 23:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by k1234567890y »

A good Idea, and I might have also ever thought of something similar...although my native langauge is not any Germanic language...

Also, I have ever created a West Germanic conlang(Urban Basanawa) that is written in a writing system derived from the Japanese writing system(Kanji and Kana)...
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Adarain »

This is essentially what I'd want a Swiss German writing system to be. There's no way to make a good phonemic orthography for all Swiss dialects, some are just too different, and excluding a dialect is no good. The only problem with a logographic system, of course is, there is like no way to make anyone adapt to that.

Also, could you make the logographs look like runes, from a style standpoint? You know, because Germanic and all.
At kveldi skal dag lęyfa,
Konu es bręnnd es,
Mæki es ręyndr es,
Męy es gefin es,
Ís es yfir kømr,
Ǫl es drukkit es.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by k1234567890y »

Due to the characteristics of the morphology of Germanic languages, the result might be more similar to the Sumerian, Mayan or Japanese system, that is, we need some phonemic parts to express the inflections and probably certain loanwords.

Also, how to handle words of Greek and Latin origin? as most Germanic natural languages have a considerable amount of them, that will be an issue.
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

Adarain wrote:This is essentially what I'd want a Swiss German writing system to be. There's no way to make a good phonemic orthography for all Swiss dialects, some are just too different, and excluding a dialect is no good. The only problem with a logographic system, of course is, there is like no way to make anyone adapt to that.

Also, could you make the logographs look like runes, from a style standpoint? You know, because Germanic and all.
Yes, I don't think anyone is going to use this system, although I might use it for my own entertainment or as a sort of code sometimes if I get it more complete than just for writing whatever short bit of text I have. Logograms for Swiss German sounds kind of cool though, but yeah, very few if any people would want to switch from an alphabetic system to logograms.

I do want them to stylistically look like runes, but most of them are going to be more complex than runes, because they're logograms and not letters. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that.
k1234567890y wrote:Due to the characteristics of the morphology of Germanic languages, the result might be more similar to the Sumerian, Mayan or Japanese system, that is, we need some phonemic parts to express the inflections and probably certain loanwords.

Also, how to handle words of Greek and Latin origin? as most Germanic natural languages have a considerable amount of them, that will be an issue.
Probably. Maybe the Latin loanwords could have characters depending on what they mean in terms of Germanic words (line = the straight thing), or maybe based on how they sound compared to other words (line = mine but with an l), or both. I intend that common Latin loanwords that are obviously related and mean basically the same thing like scene and Szene come out similarly, but who knows with that part.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by k1234567890y »

HoskhMatriarch wrote:
Probably. Maybe the Latin loanwords could have characters depending on what they mean in terms of Germanic words (line = the straight thing), or maybe based on how they sound compared to other words (line = mine but with an l), or both. I intend that common Latin loanwords that are obviously related and mean basically the same thing like scene and Szene come out similarly, but who knows with that part.
ok :)

Another possible solution is that we could assign two readings to a character, like the "Literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters" of many Chinese varieties(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_ ... characters ) or the distinctions of "On'yomi" and "Kun'yomi" of Japanese Kanji(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji ). In the Germanic Logogram case, they might be called "Academic reading"(for Latinate Pronunciations) and "Folk reading"(for Native Germanic Pronunciations).
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Ephraim »

You could probably make a resonable "morphemic" writing system for Germanic. Most non-compound content words would be 2–4 characters:
(prefix)-root-(suffix)-ending
This is similar to how most PIE words are formed. The suffix would be optional but very common.

So the 3pl present indicative of learn (*liznōþi) would be written:
*liz-INCH-3pl.prs.ind

And the archaic word list meaning ‘craft’ could be written with the same root character as:
*liz-*þi-nom.sg

The noun "love" (< *lubō) could be written:
*leub-*ō-nom.sg

The infinitive of believe (< *bilaubijaną) could be written:
*bi-*leub-CAUS-INF

You would need different character for all inflectional combinations (nom.sg, 3pl.prs.ind etc.) but not for all their phonetic manifestations as this is decided by the prefix and root. You also don't need different characters for the different ablaut grades of the root, or the umlauted forms in later languages.
You may simplify a word by having a "default" inflection, probably the nom.sg for nouns, which is left unwritten. That way, languages without case inflection don't need an inflectional character in the singular. You could also have a default suffix for the roots which doesn't need to be written out.

Eye could be written as:
*aug-*an-nom.sg
or simplified to:
*aug

Foot (a root noun) as:
*fōt-nom.sg or just *fōt

And wolf as:
*wulf-*a-nom.sg or just *wulf
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Prinsessa »

HoskhMatriarch wrote:fōtsi
Where did you get that from? Don't you mean *fōtiz?
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HinGambleGoth »

I had something similar in mind, but not logograms, instead i would use the Elder fuþark to write a very conservative orthography, that would be read as a medieval Germanic language (the idea was that it was a medieval liturgical written language) pronounced using local rules, that is j/i is silent and causing umlaut (compare Slavic orthographic yer), and most final vowels are silent, but "protect" consonants (like in french)

So for instance a word like "sókjan" (I cant write runes) would be read as lets say /sø:kjã/ in Denmark, and /sø:ʧan/ in England. here the /j/ "softens the ó to /ø:/ and also palatalises the /k/ in anglo-saxon tradition to /ʧ/

I reckon you get the general idea, you essentially write OE,ON, and OHG the same, maybe even with some grammatical archaisms like nominative -az in OE that is silent, and some literary verb forms and so on.
Last edited by HinGambleGoth on 16 Sep 2015 23:16, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Ephraim »

HoskhMatriarch wrote:This will probably lead to some hilarious things, like possibly gender still being marked on English articles since the writing system is so conservative even though we don't have gender on our words anymore.
Or English could simply use the masculine nominative singular form (< PG *sa) for all genders, cases and numbers.

Syncretism, like the fact that the accusative and genitive plural is the same for many icelandic nouns, is easy to handle. Just write as if the distinction was still made:
*wulf–*a-acc.pl or *wulf-acc.pl
*wulf–*a-gen.pl or *wulf-gen.pl

Both pronounced /ˈulva/. Since the language does make a distinction for other nouns, you can still tell what inflection is appropriate.

But what about languages that have lost case inflection or gender for all nouns? Do you still write the inflection as if it was present? You could, of course, but there would be no language-internal factors to tell what case you should use or what gender a noun has. So if you introduce gender and case inflection into English nouns in writing, are you really creating just a conscript and not a conlang?
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

Prinsessa wrote:
HoskhMatriarch wrote:fōtsi
Where did you get that from? Don't you mean *fōtiz?
Yes.
Ephraim wrote:
HoskhMatriarch wrote:This will probably lead to some hilarious things, like possibly gender still being marked on English articles since the writing system is so conservative even though we don't have gender on our words anymore.
Or English could simply use the masculine nominative singular form (< PG *sa) for all genders, cases and numbers.

Syncretism, like the fact that the accusative and genitive plural is the same for many icelandic nouns, is easy to handle. Just write as if the distinction was still made:
*wulf–*a-acc.pl or *wulf-acc.pl
*wulf–*a-gen.pl or *wulf-gen.pl

Both pronounced /ˈulva/. Since the language does make a distinction for other nouns, you can still tell what inflection is appropriate.

But what about languages that have lost case inflection or gender for all nouns? Do you still write the inflection as if it was present? You could, of course, but there would be no language-internal factors to tell what case you should use or what gender a noun has. So if you introduce gender and case inflection into English nouns in writing, are you really creating just a conscript and not a conlang?
OK, yes, so no genders or inflection on English except where it currently is (aka pronouns). But there still need to be a lot of conservative features, or else you might as well be writing with an alphabet.

HinGambleGoth wrote:I had something similar in mind, but not logograms, instead i would use the Elder fuþark to write a very conservative orthography, that would be read as a medieval Germanic language (the idea was that it was a medieval liturgical written language) pronounced using local rules, that is j/i is silent and causing umlaut (compare Slavic orthographic yer), and most final vowels are silent, but "protect" consonants (like in french)

So for instance a word like "sókjan" (I cant write runes) would be read as lets say /sø:kjã/ in Denmark, and /sø:ʧan/ in England. here the /j/ "softens the ó to /ø:/ and also palatalises the /k/ in anglo-saxon tradition to /ʧ/

I reckon you get the general idea, you essentially write OE,ON, and OHG the same, maybe even with some grammatical archaisms like nominative -az in OE that is silent, and some literary verb forms and so on.
Cool. I don't think this board even supports runes, since they're in Unicode but not in that many fonts.
k1234567890y wrote:
HoskhMatriarch wrote:
Probably. Maybe the Latin loanwords could have characters depending on what they mean in terms of Germanic words (line = the straight thing), or maybe based on how they sound compared to other words (line = mine but with an l), or both. I intend that common Latin loanwords that are obviously related and mean basically the same thing like scene and Szene come out similarly, but who knows with that part.
ok :)

Another possible solution is that we could assign two readings to a character, like the "Literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters" of many Chinese varieties(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_ ... characters ) or the distinctions of "On'yomi" and "Kun'yomi" of Japanese Kanji(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji ). In the Germanic Logogram case, they might be called "Academic reading"(for Latinate Pronunciations) and "Folk reading"(for Native Germanic Pronunciations).
That is an awesome idea. So I guess the English characters for oxygen and hydrogen would end up being the same as sourstuff and waterstuff then, even though those aren't words in the English language, because that's what they are in most other Germanic languages that I know of? Of course, there are some element names that are already Germanic, like nickel, iron, and cobalt, so those won't even have those problems as far as academic stuff goes. On the other hand, all Germanic languages including the ultra-conservative Icelandic appear to have loanwords for copper.
Ephraim wrote:You could probably make a resonable "morphemic" writing system for Germanic. Most non-compound content words would be 2–4 characters:
(prefix)-root-(suffix)-ending
This is similar to how most PIE words are formed. The suffix would be optional but very common.

So the 3pl present indicative of learn (*liznōþi) would be written:
*liz-INCH-3pl.prs.ind

And the archaic word list meaning ‘craft’ could be written with the same root character as:
*liz-*þi-nom.sg

The noun "love" (< *lubō) could be written:
*leub-*ō-nom.sg

The infinitive of believe (< *bilaubijaną) could be written:
*bi-*leub-CAUS-INF

You would need different character for all inflectional combinations (nom.sg, 3pl.prs.ind etc.) but not for all their phonetic manifestations as this is decided by the prefix and root. You also don't need different characters for the different ablaut grades of the root, or the umlauted forms in later languages.
You may simplify a word by having a "default" inflection, probably the nom.sg for nouns, which is left unwritten. That way, languages without case inflection don't need an inflectional character in the singular. You could also have a default suffix for the roots which doesn't need to be written out.

Eye could be written as:
*aug-*an-nom.sg
or simplified to:
*aug

Foot (a root noun) as:
*fōt-nom.sg or just *fōt

And wolf as:
*wulf-*a-nom.sg or just *wulf
This is a good idea. Thanks.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Prinsessa »

Couldn't certain things be simplified and suggesting no particular pronunciation? I.e. all plural forms are written as the singular with an additional sign that's no more than a grammatical plural marker — it contains no actual phonetic information and would be used no matter whether the transition is between book > books, foot > feet or child > children.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by Thrice Xandvii »

This is an intriguing project!

If you ever want help or suggestions with actually crafting the logograms, I'd like to help with that, but the logistics of planning such a script isn't really in my wheelhouse. I know next to nothing about Proto-Germanic... I mean, outside of speaking English natively and knowing a small amount of German and a nigh unto zero amount of Dutch... like just enough to recognize written Dutch is in fact Dutch. [:)]
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

Prinsessa wrote:Couldn't certain things be simplified and suggesting no particular pronunciation? I.e. all plural forms are written as the singular with an additional sign that's no more than a grammatical plural marker — it contains no actual phonetic information and would be used no matter whether the transition is between book > books, foot > feet or child > children.
I might go with that. I'll have to do more research on actual logographic systems to see whether they're more likely to do that or have different plurals for the different plural morphemes.
Thrice Xandvii wrote:This is an intriguing project!

If you ever want help or suggestions with actually crafting the logograms, I'd like to help with that, but the logistics of planning such a script isn't really in my wheelhouse. I know next to nothing about Proto-Germanic... I mean, outside of speaking English natively and knowing a small amount of German and a nigh unto zero amount of Dutch... like just enough to recognize written Dutch is in fact Dutch. [:)]
http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/ ... gmc00.html
http://www.angelfire.com/ga3/arkan/pgmnlex.html

Recognizing when Dutch is Dutch is pretty good compared to what I've heard from some people, which is that they see German and are like "is this German or Dutch?" (Aside from the people who think Deutsch is Dutch, which is a different matter entirely.)

OK, yeah, this project is going to be weird. I was looking up etymologies of words and the German word for head (Kopf) is a Latin loanword (while the English word head comes from Proto-Germanic. Although, the German word Haupt comes from the same root as English head and is used in the non-bodypart sense of head. But it's still weird that English is sometimes more conservative than German with vocabulary, which this is not the only case of).
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by clawgrip »

I'm a bit busy, but I have a couple ideas for this. Maybe I can post a mockup of something.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by cntrational »

[quote=HoskhMatriarch]Recognizing when Dutch is Dutch is pretty good compared to what I've heard from some people, which is that they see German and are like "is this German or Dutch?" (Aside from the people who think Deutsch is Dutch, which is a different matter entirely.)[/quote]This is complicated even more by the phrase "Pennsylvania Dutch", which is actually Deutsch. They're ethnic Germans, and anglicized "Deutsch" as "Dutch".
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by clawgrip »

Okay, I think we need some practical examples, so I made up some stuff. Here's how I suggest it can work.

First, a few regular glyphs.
Image: :eng: eye, :deu: Auge
Image: :eng: foot, :deu: Fuß

We add a plural marker to get the plurals:
ImageImage: :eng: eyes, :deu: Augen
ImageImage: :eng: feet, :deu: Füße

The script is logo-semantic, so the particular phonetic realization is irrelevant, because the reader knows what the plural of eye or foot is. One all-purpose plural glyph is sufficient.

Even though head and Kopf have different etymologies, they can take the same glyph, because the reading will be obvious based on whatever language you happen to be reading:
Image: :eng: head, :deu: Kopf
ImageImage: :eng: heads, :deu: Köpfe

For Latin or Greek stems we can use the same glyphs easily enough:
Image: :eng: eight, :deu: acht

ImageImage: :eng: octopus
This is obviously "octopus" because "eightfoot" is not a word. This is how Japanese works; e.g. 食事 is obviously shokuji because tabegoto (the native reading) is not a word.

Since German doesn't take its word for octopus from Greek, we have a few choices. We can do a jukujikun style compound (i.e. ignore the pronunciation and use only the meaning):
ImageImage: :deu: Krake

Or there could be an individual glyph that German uses for Krake but English doesn't for octopus:
Image: :deu: Krake

Both forms could coexist in German easily enough.

We also have this:
ImageImage: :eng: cephalopod

This would almost work for German Kopffüßer, but you might want a separate glyph for -er. It's not absolutely necessary though, since Kopffuß is not a word as far as I know.

For sentences, I propose using an interpunct to separate words:

ImageImageImageImage: :eng: the octopus

This lets us use suffixes on words clearly, like the feminine ending here:
ImageImageImageImage: :deu: die Krake

How do German and English compare?

:eng: ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
the foot-PL of the eight-foot
"the feet of the octopus"

:deu: ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
the-MASC foot-PL of-the-ACC octopus
"die Füße des Oktopus"

If an English speaker knows the glyph for octopus, which they should, since it would be used for English kraken, then this should be kind of weird, but fairly easily understood. Similarly, a German speaker should be able to understand even though the gender marking is missing.

I am not so familiar with Scandinavian languages and so on, but it's a start. What do you think?
Last edited by clawgrip on 18 Sep 2015 16:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

clawgrip wrote:Okay, I think we need some practical examples, so I made up some stuff. Here's how I suggest it can work.

First, a few regular glyphs.
Image: :eng: eye, :deu: Auge
Image: :eng: foot, :deu: Fuß

We add a plural marker to get the plurals:
ImageImage: :eng: eyes, :deu: Augen
ImageImage: :eng: feet, :deu: Füße

The script is logo-semantic, so the particular phonetic realization is irrelevant, because the reader knows what the plural of eye or foot is. One all-purpose plural glyph is sufficient.

Even though head and Kopf have different etymologies, they can take the same glyph, because the reading will be obvious based on whatever language you happen to be reading:
Image: :eng: head, :deu: Kopf
ImageImage: :eng: heads, :deu: Köpfe

For Latin or Greek stems we can use the same glyphs easily enough:
Image: :eng: eight, :deu: acht

ImageImage: :eng: octopus
This is obviously "octopus" because "eightfoot" is not a word.

Since German doesn't take its word for octopus from Greek, we have a few choices. We can do a jukujikun style compound (i.e. ignore the pronunciation and use only the meaning):
ImageImage: :deu: Krake

Or there could be an individual glyph that German uses for Krake but English doesn't for octopus:
Image: :deu: Krake

Both forms could coexist in German easily enough.

We also have this:
ImageImage: :eng: cephalopod

This would almost work for German Kopffüßer, but you might want a separate glyph for -er. It's not absolutely necessary though, since Kopffuß is not a word as far as I know.

For sentences, I propose using an interpunct to separate words:

ImageImageImageImage: :eng: the octopus

This lets us use suffixes on words clearly, like the feminine ending here:
ImageImageImageImage: :deu: die Krake

How do German and English compare?

:eng: ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
the foot-PL of the eight-foot
"the feet of the octopus"

:deu: ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
the-MASC foot-PL of-the-ACC octopus
"die Füße des Oktopus"

If an English speaker knows the glyph for octopus, which they should, since it would be used for English kraken, then this should be kind of weird, but fairly easily understood. Similarly, a German speaker should be able to understand even though the gender marking is missing.

I am not so familiar with Scandinavian languages and so on, but it's a start. What do you think?
That's cool. Now what's left for me to do since you're making up all the glyphs and drawing them...
cntrational wrote:
HoskhMatriarch wrote:Recognizing when Dutch is Dutch is pretty good compared to what I've heard from some people, which is that they see German and are like "is this German or Dutch?" (Aside from the people who think Deutsch is Dutch, which is a different matter entirely.)
This is complicated even more by the phrase "Pennsylvania Dutch", which is actually Deutsch. They're ethnic Germans, and anglicized "Deutsch" as "Dutch".
Yes, and it's even better that the name of the Pennsylvanian Dutch Low German dialect is... Pennsylvania German.
Last edited by HoskhMatriarch on 18 Sep 2015 16:14, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by clawgrip »

I have only made up the glyphs you see here. If you want to scrap them or make them yourself, I will of course stop here and let you go with it, since this is your project. I just couldn't help trying it out!
Since this was less alt-history and more thought experiment, I derived a bunch of the glyphs by just unsystematically and drastically simplifying and runifying Chinese oracle bone characters, and occasionally just borrowing runes outright.
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Re: Pan-Germanic Logograms

Post by HoskhMatriarch »

clawgrip wrote:I have only made up the glyphs you see here. If you want to scrap them or make them yourself, I will of course stop here and let you go with it, since this is your project. I just couldn't help trying it out!
Since this was less alt-history and more thought experiment, I derived a bunch of the glyphs by just unsystematically simplifying and runifying Chinese oracle bone characters, and occasionally just borrowing runes outright.
Well, you're doing a better job drawing than I probably could, and the characters look pretty neat, so...
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