Excerpts from ‘Orality and Literacy’

Posted in Uncategorized by Lina A.Hadi on July 20, 2011

Visual presentation of verbalized material in space has its own particular economy, its own laws of motion and structure. Texts in Various scripts around the world are read variously from right to left, or left to right, or top to bottom, or all these ways at once as in boustrophedon writing, but never anywhere, as far as is know, from bottom to top. Texts assimilate utterance to the human body. They introduce a feeling for ‘heading’ in accumulations of knowledge: ‘chapter’ derives from the Latin caput, meaning head ( as of the human body). Pages have not only ‘heads’ but also ‘feet’, for footnotes. References are given to what is ‘above’ or ‘below’ in a text when what is meant is several pages back or further on. The significance of the vertical and the horizontal in texts deserves further study. Kerkhove (1981) suggests that growth in left-hemisphere dominance governed the drift in early Greek writing from right-to-left movement, to boustrophedon movement (‘ox-plowing’ pattern, one line going right, then a turn around the corner into the next line going left, the letters inverted according to the direction of the line ), to stoichedon style  (vertical lines), and finally  to definitive left-to-right movement on a horizontal line. All this is quite a different order from anything in the oral sensibility, which has no way of operating with ‘heading’ or verbal linearity. Across the world the alphabet, the ruthless efficient  reducer of of sound to space, is pressed into direct service for setting up the new space-defined sequences: items are marked a. b. c, and so on to indicate their sequences, and even poems in the early days of literacy are composed with the first letter of the first word of successive lines following the order of the alphavet. The alphabet as a simple sequence of letters is a major bridge between oral mnemonic and literate mnemonics: generally the sequence of the letters of the alphabet is memorized oraly and then used for largely visual retrieval of materials, as in indexes. (Ong, 2002, 99)

Ong, W (2002) Orality and Literacy.  New York: Routledge

Basic Exercises

Posted in Uncategorized by Lina A.Hadi on July 19, 2011

fontlab. not so easy.

Posted in Uncategorized by Lina A.Hadi on July 17, 2011


and why does fontlab screw things up even more than they are already????







Painting Speech

Posted in Uncategorized by Lina A.Hadi on July 14, 2011

‘Whence did the wond’rous mystic art arise,
of painting speech, and speaking to the eyes?
That we by tracing magic lines are taught,
how to embody, and to color thought?’

William Massey,
The Origin and Progress of Letters (1763)

(found in Calligraphiti; The Graphic Art of Niels Shoe Meulman)

Rdng wtht vwls

Posted in excerpts, research by Lina A.Hadi on July 3, 2011

Research, from ‘Reading a script without vowels’ by James Barr, In Writing Without Letters


” In order to understand the process of understanding, it will be useful to begin with the reading of a pointed text, i.e. one to which have been added all the marks which indicate vowels, absence of a vowel, etc. A pointed Semitic text of this kind can be considered as a text with three bands. A European alphabetic text has one band, one series of letters which you read in succession from left to right, In a Semitic text you have a central band, furnished by the ‘consonantal’ text, and a band above and below in which lie the marks for vowels. The operation of reading can be thought of as the combination of the three bands into one unilinear series. The rules for doing this are quite simple: you read the first sign in the central band, i.e. the first consonant; then you add to this any vowel indicate by a mark in the bands above and below, then you pass on to the next sign in the central band, and do on. (Barr, 1976, 79)”


Two reading processes of reading consonantal scripts, represented schematically by the author:

Pointed text: written signs –> full phoneme series –>semantic interpretation

unpointed text: written signs –> semantic interpretation –> full phoneme series


The reading of traditional but unpointed text works by a sort of two-source method,

(“reading .. being understood to include both translation into the medium of sound and semantic understanding of the meaning.”)


Interpretation of consonantal unpointed text can be derived from the following three clues:

1. word patterns
2. clues from syntax
3. semantic context

(Barr, 1976, 86)


Posted in Uncategorized by Lina A.Hadi on July 2, 2011


by Jose Ernesto Rodriguez