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 excerpts, research by Lina A.Hadi on June 30, 2011

Excerpt from ‘Shapes for Sounds‘ (Timothy Donaldson)

” The popularity of Blackletter created lines of letters that looked so alike they were even described with a weaving term, Textura, (from which we also get the word; text).  Therefore, scribes began adding a short dash above the letter to identify it.  The dash eventually became a dot, which was originally called a tittle.  ”

“J is the youngest letter in the Latin alphabet. The Latin alphabet is about 2,700 years old, but J is only about 300 years old … The practice of elongating the stem of the letter i began for the same reason as that of placing a tittle, or small mark, above the letter – differentiation. This lengthened stroke showed when the letter i was being used as a consonant, originally as a Y sound but gradually firming into a J sound as Latin spread through Europe. Also, when a Latin word ended with a double i as in Filii,  a long i (j) would be used to mark the letter pair as different from an n as in Filij… j eventually got the dot from i as well, and was retrospectively given a capital letter.”

I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, the dots don’t really make any sense now, do they?

research into language

Posted in research by Lina A.Hadi on June 28, 2011

Terminology coming up in my research,

syntagmeme:  A syntactic construction, viewed as a sequence of the tagmemes of which it consists. ( wikipedia)

lexeme: A unit of lexical meaning, which exists regardless of any inflectional endings it may have or the number of words it may contain. Thus, fibrillate, rain cats and dogs, and come in are all lexemes, as are elephant, jog, cholesterol, happiness, put up with, face the music, and hundreds of thousands of other meaningful items in English. The headwords in a dictionary are all lexemes.” (David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2003)

eg. Cat – 1 lexeme, augmented to plural by the morpheme {s}


morpheme any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, eachconstituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot bedivided into smaller independent grammatical parts, as the, write, or the -ed of waited. (
( {kæt} and {s} 2 morphemes)


phoneme  (/kæts/ 3 phonemes)

” .. each eme is a class of minimal distinctive functional units that contrasts with all other classes at its own level, and each ’eme’ is in  a given utterance represented, or attested, by a phonetic event that is recognisable as belonging to that class.” (Pulgram,1966)

Typology of writing systems

distinction between phonemic and phonetic: phonemic writing does not include the sub-phonemic (allophonic) variations. phonetic includes all variations of a single phoneme. eg: aspirated p in pin and non-aspirated p in spin (Pulgram, 1966)

Ryo Shimizu

Posted in research by Lina A.Hadi on June 18, 2011

“Ryo Shimizu’s 15-foot-by-41-foot typographic installation shows what a hybrid Chinese-English font might look like.

Everyone’s accustomed to seeing text on the walls of an art gallery. But not text that’s itself the work of art. And certainly not text that fills as much space as would a cement truck.

CNJPUS TEXT, by Japanese artist Ryo Shimizu, is a 15-foot-by-41-foot “painting” rendered in nothing but typography. Letters forming some 2,500 words cover an entire gallery wall, then scatter onto the floor helter-skelter like a spilled bag of ABCs.”


artist website:


Posted in Major Project Definition, research by Lina A.Hadi on June 14, 2011

From the invention of letters the machinations of the human heart began to operate; falsity and error daily increased; litigation and prisons had their beginnings, as also specious and artful language, which causes so much confusion in the world, It was on these accounts that the shades of the departed wept at night, But, on the other hand, from the invention of letters all polite intercourse and music proceeded and reason and justice were made manifest; the relations of life were defined, and laws were fixed; governors had a lasting rule to refer to; scholars had authorities to venerate; the histoian the mathematician, the astronomer, can do nothing without letters. Were there not letters to give proof of passing events, the shades might weep at noonday as well as night and the heavens rain down blood, for tradition might affirm what she pleased, so that the letters have done much more good than evil; and as a token of the good, heaven rained down ripe grain the day that they were first invented.

Henry Noel Humphreys

The originand progress of the art of writing, 1855

in The Alphabetic Labyrinth (Johanna Drucker)