Archive for writing

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Historical Dating through a Pseudo Manuscript

Dale Couet

*Please note that both the manuscript and the following narrative are fictitious and exist for aestical purposes.

Couet, Dale. “Pseudo-Script”

Þe lord scheweth his face to vs alle
in þy endeles mercy þou heere our calle
þauȝ þe shadowe of deeth couerethe me
I will synge as fyr groweth on my tree
by grace I feare not knoweynge þat sone I
wil be but dust for in þy memorie
I shall liue in þy holy book deuyne
al þauȝ lyes tempte me my life is not myne
euery brethe I breethe is a ȝifte from þee
wiche wil þen be token whanne þou doth see.
for þe schort tyme on erthe is but a crumme
when sette on þe lif þat is sone to come.

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Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Giving Pause to Punctuation: A Challenge to Prescriptivism

Jonathan Bragg

Image by Ag Ku from Pixabay.

In the seventh century, English monks adopted the practice of putting dots between words in their copies of St. Jerome’s Latin Bible, the Vulgate (Mulvey 46). While the idea of separating words on a page may seem obvious to people today, the idea was revolutionary at the time. Latin texts were usually written in scriptura continua – an uninterrupted string of letters without any punctuation separating them. It was the Celtic monks in Ireland, struggling to understand the Latin of the Vulgate, who thought of separating every word from the words next to it (Mulvey 46). The introduction of word separation to England, which later became the word space, forever changed English writing. Once word spacing became standard practice, it was possible to introduce other punctuation marks within these spaces (Crystal 16).

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Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Modernized Modern Day English

Grace Gardner

Source: Digital Parenting, at

Looking at Richard Nordquist’s definition of dialect is what makes me believe that text-messaging English should be considered as a dialect of English. He believes that a dialect includes two important aspects: the grammar surrounding the language and how it is pronounced. Having been around since nearly the beginning of the text-messaging English era, I do believe that it should be considered as a dialect of English. Obviously, there is a significant number of people who have the idea that in order for something to be a dialect, it needs to follow the guidelines of standardized English. What many people fail to realize though is that a dialect is not about how things are spelt, but rather what the person gains from it.

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Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Fact: Languages aren’t writing systems.

Yin Liu

Myth: English is written using the English alphabet.

There is no English alphabet. English is a language, not a writing system. It can be represented in writing in many different ways: by using an alphabet, by using Morse Code, by Braille, whatever you wish. Most commonly today, it is written using the Roman alphabet, which was originally designed to write Latin. There has been no commonly used writing system specifically designed to write English.

Behind the inaccurate phrase ‘the English alphabet’ is the misconception that there is a one-to-one correspondence between a spoken language and a written representation of that language. Reality is more complicated. A language can be written using more than one writing system; for example, Serbo-Croatian is, grammatically, essentially one language, but when it’s considered ‘Croatian’ it’s written with the Roman alphabet, and when it’s considered ‘Serbian’ it’s written with the Cyrillic alphabet. Conversely, a writing system can be used to write many different languages; for example, written Chinese is used to represent all the distinct and often mutually unintelligible Chinese languages (often called ‘dialects’ of Chinese), as well as being adapted to represent some words (kanji) in written Japanese.

At one point in its history, two possible alphabets were used for English: the runic alphabet, the futhorc, designed for Germanic languages such as English, and the Roman alphabet, designed to write Latin and adapted to write English. On the left is a detail from Oxford, St John’s College MS 17, fol. 5v. The manuscript was created in England circa 1110 and is mostly devoted to computus, the art of astronomical and calendrical calculation, but on this page is a chart of cryptic and esoteric alphabets. These two rows show symbols (graphemes) from the runic futhorc on the left and corresponding letters from the Roman alphabet on the right. By the time this manuscript was created, the Roman alphabet was the usual way of writing both Latin and English, and the runic alphabet was an oddity that not many people in England knew how to use.

The Roman alphabet is used today, with minor variations, to write a great number of different languages, many of which are not even related to each other. English is just one of them.

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