9.18.2005

Ethiopian is pretty


I took a cab today and the driver was a friendly, cosmopolitan, refined Ethiopian guy who told me that he spoke four (!) languages. Then he showed me an Ethiopian newspaper, and I was struck by how attractive the script is. The script here is from the Ethiopian Embassy, where there's also an English translation.

Also, my last post about Malaysian was updated because I got a response from Jordan.

13 comments:

Mad Minerva said...

Very pretty indeed! Different writing systems have always interested me. So many ways to write languages...We've come a long way since folks were using cuneiform, I suppose! ;)

pat said...

I'm a fan as well. I see a lot of signs in Amharic (and also, I presume, in Tigrigna). As a slight aside, Google has localized their search engine for Amharic and Tigrinya, but doesn't index either.

mj said...

Too bad I can't read all the languages out there. I can barely find the discipline to improve my Japanese.

Just think: if I hadn't asked the taxi driver what language he speaks (after he finished a cell phone convo with someone from his language group), I would've never discovered this cool language.

Neat info, Pat--and welcome to this blog.

comrade_tovarich said...

Yes, it's a neat script. Have you seen written Burmese? It looks like gelcaps in various stages of development. Well, to me it does.

mj said...

Your gelcap description is great. A while ago I got a book about the Burmese language, so I saw that cute script. Maybe I should do a "Burmese is cute" post.

ewa said...

Have you seen text in Buginese? It looks a bit funny (with all respect for everyone who uses this language). Or Tibetian in handwriting? It's beautiful.
I think the most writings in the world are like beautiful ornaments...
In my language, Polish, we call such strange writings "little bushes or little worms". Is there any expresion in English for this?

mj said...

We don't have a similar expression in English. I've never heard such writings described that way. I don't even know what Buginese is, so I should do a post about it.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Hebrew, doesn't it?

mj said...

I think it's quite different--Hebrew looks more square and boxy.

des said...

The Ethiopian (GE'EZ) alphabet (Fidel) is the only native Alphabet to Africa. It has 7 vowels, some 35 Consonants. The script is used same way the Roman letters are used, which means represent every monolithic sound by a consonant. The Consonant+vowel represent the variations of every monolithic sound just like the Roman Alphabet.

The only difference is, although there are unique letters available for each vowel, the variation of the consonants are designated by marking the consonant itself instead of writing a second letter or Fidel for the vowel.

This marked consonants are preset and are included in the Fidel matrix. So some say the Fidel has 35x7 letters.

Daniel said...

Additionally because the consonant+vowel variation symbols or letters or Fidel is preset, it is difficult to write words and sentences that make it difficult to write had there been no such preset letters. The hassle of spelling and pronunciations we see in most language that use the Roman letters are not existent with the Fidel.

The Fidel has one basic problem though, it doesn't yield a way to differentiate explosive or light sounds that are represented with the same letter. So you are left to decide from the context. It a bit tough because the language is full of such syllables.

Daniel said...

I was wrong above the Fidel matrix has 26x7 letters.

mj said...

Thanks for the info--I knew nothing about the language, other than I like how it looks.