Jul 3, 2011

Top Ten Weirdest Writing Systems in The World

1. Talking Knots

‘Talking Knots’ is the nickname for a truly unique way to ‘write down’ information: knots tied into strings. Used by the Inca, this is the only known writing system of pre-Columbian America, and dates back at least 4,600 years. ‘Talking knots’ were widely used for taxation, census taking, historical information, astronomy, and possibly even maps.

Most archeologists think that the knotting system contains both numbers and words, but only the numbers have ever been deciphered by modern scholars. The color, position and spacing of the knots might also contribute to their meaning. We don’t know, because talking knots were suppressed by Spanish conquerors in the sixteenth century in an effort to prevent communication of secret messages.

Less than eight hundred quipu, or collections of these knotted strings, survive today. They’re often found inside graves, and archeologists have theorized that they might tell the story of the dead person they were interred with.

2. The Witches’ Alphabet

Often known as the Theban alphabet, this script is of unclear origin. It first appears in a very Latin manuscript in the sixteenth century, in which the author claims that it was formulated by a gentleman named Honorius of Thebes about five hundred many years previously. The letters with the witches’ alphabet correspond to Latin letters, so it could be applied to just transcribe Latin or English.

Honorius might possibly or may not have been completely a legitimate person, but his affect lives on: Gerald Gardner, the creator of Wicca, encouraged utilization of the alphabet by fashionable Wiccan practitioners inside 1950s. Presently, various Wiccans use it to mask the meanings of secret spells and texts.

3. Naxi

The Naxi are an ethnic minority of about 300,000 in a Southwestern province of China. Their writing system, a thousand-year-old script also called Naxi, is so complex it takes about 15 years to learn.

Naxi script appears to be easy: it’s made up of pictures, and looks like it can be read as a comic book. But it’s not so simple: some words are left out, others are seemingly unconnected to the word’s meaning, or are replaced with pictures of another word that has a similar sound. These days, the script is only used by local priests, and less than a hundred are alive today.

4. The Voynich Script

Composed inside early 15th Century, the Voynich manuscript is 240 pages of mystery. It is created in an not known alphabet, and inside hundred decades seeing that its discovery, no one continues to be able to determine just what the hell any of it signifies. It is also stuffed with colourful illustrations of vegetation, astronomical symbols, along with other apparently nonsensical photographs, which indicates that it could be a magical or scientific text.

There's a couple of theories concerning the weird producing: it is within a language that was invented by the writer; it is a genuine language that's been properly coded; the letters are principally meaningless but contain a hidden concept somewhere among them, or last of all, which the individual who wrote it was just basic insane. To this day, nobody understands, but it you crack the code oneself you will almost certainly turn out famous.

5. Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Historical Egyptian virtually beats out Sumerian for oldest producing strategy: it is at the very least five in addition to a 50 percent thousand many years outdated. The complicated hieroglyphic product, which contained characters that symbolized appears and characters that symbolize words, is familiar to the majority. But here’s one factor the movies won’t tell you: the images we think of when we suppose ‘Egyptian hieroglyphs’ had been virtually only put into use for spiritual and formal matters, and that is why there is many of them on tomb partitions. For ‘everyday’ writing and texts, Egyptians applied a tremendously simplified script termed Hieratic. So, in case you were an historic Egyptian accountant, you would not have already been drawing individuals images of cats and crocodiles even when operating out someone’s taxes.

Later, an a lot more simplified consonantal script called Demotic designed. In the earliest century, the historical Egyptian language started for being written in Greek alphabet, a type of which is still implemented in the present day as a liturgical language by Egyptian Coptic Christians.

6. Tifinagh

Speaking of the Phoenician alphabet: it pretty much died out about seventeen hundred years ago. Except for in North Africa, where it survived as an alphabet called ‘Tifinagh’, and is still in use by Berbers, an indigenous people who live mainly in Morocco and Algeria. Use of the alphabet used to be illegal in Morocco for political reasons, but it was recently ‘authorized’ there as the official Berber script in 2003.

The most interesting thing about Tifinagh is its odd geometric appearance. It’s mostly composed of right angles, dots, and perfect circles. With no disrespect to Berber culture, Tifinagh looks a lot like something you’d dream up for aliens to use in a science fiction movie.

7. Sumerian Cuneiform

Around six thousand years ago, Sumer (in modern-day Iraq) was busy developing the earliest known writing system. It probably stared like this: people would keep track of important numbers (taxes, debts, trade records) using a system of tokens, and then bake the tokens into clay pots. Eventually, someone figured out that they didn’t actually need the tokens inside – they could just press the number into the clay. Then they needed to remember what was being counted, so they thought up a symbol for that too. Yay, they’d just created writing.

Unfortunately, Sumerian had some growing pains. Its letters were horribly complicated, one word or sound could be written in over a dozen ways, and the same symbol could mean multiple things. Mastering cuneiform required many years of study by dedicated scribes. Presumably everyone was relieved when the cuneiform system was finally replaced by the Phoenician alphabet.

8. Calligrams

In some versions of Judaism and Islam, photographs of living stuff are prohibited. A clever way that artists obtained all-around this tenet was to work with calligrams, a visual image which is shaped completely from small words. Consider about this: in case your image of a peacock is really constructed from phrases or passages from the holy text, will you be honestly breaking the principles?

So, a favorite Islamic calligram could use a passage of Arabic through the Koran to form an image of an animal, a human figure, or an inanimate object these types of being a sword or mosque. Commencing all over the 9th century, Jewish scribes also produced the custom of micrography, images created up of very small Hebrew letters. These have been put into use to build every thing from drawings of animals to elaborate abstract styles and illustrations, all created up of suitable text through the scriptures.

9. Runes

Scandinavian epic poetry tells of the god Odin discovering the secrets of the runic alphabet after he hung on a tree for nine days without food or drink. As you might have figured, the Scandinavians and other Northern Europeans who used this alphabet between the 1st and 12th centuries thought it was quite special. Some of the languages that used runes, like Old English, had other alphabets, and used runes almost exclusively for decoration, magic and divination. Each rune letter also symbolized a word, and was thought to have magical or prophetic properties.

Since the 1980s, dice-like chips with runes carved into them have become popular again as a form of divination similar to Tarot cards. According to the epic poetry, this kind of divination works better if you paint the rune chips with the blood from a sacrifice first, but most modern believers understandably leave out this part.

10. Nushu

In Hunan, a province in Southern China, a unique script called Nushu has been in use since the 12th century. What makes it unique is the fact that this writing is used solely by women. Up until the 20th century, girls were forbidden from going to school, and didn’t have a chance to learn ‘normal’ Chinese script. So, older women taught them Nushu, which they often disguised as embroidery or decorations on paper fans.

Unlike Chinese characters, each Nushu ‘letter’ represents a whole syllable. There are about 1,000 of these letters to learn, which might seem like a lot, until you remember that a well-educated Chinese reader is expected to know well over seven times that many.
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