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They’re what makes spoken languages written, from the ABCs of the Latin alphabet, to the radicals of 汉文.
Basically, the terms Writing System and Script are general terms for “alphabets.”
Each script is used to fit the sounds/meaning of the languages that it can be written with.
Incidentally, my beloved hobby is discovering writing systems, and what an idea it is to make a post on my favorite scripts.
If you’re looking for a new amusement while you’re bored, you might want to try learning how to read and write scripts.
I suggest you start first with the basic ones like Cyrillic or Georgian, or with the ones that you think you’ll see yourself mastering in the future. You can even pick one in my list and see which one fits your aesthetic.
All written here is based on my opinion and my experience with each script (by either learning it or dabbling with the information).
My views might change over time so the script rating shouldn’t matter, i just thought it would be funny to add it in
Twas difficult to pick which scripts i should keep and which ones i shall remove. It’s ranked from the most recognized to the least recognized, and saving the best for the last — all imo.
Before we start, I asked some of you to name your favorites. most of the answers were bland and disappointing but it was still nice to hear what you think.
“heyy what’s your favorite writing system?also tell us why you love it, is it because of how it looks/works or other factors?”
I will be dropping resources for all that i’ve mentioned below this post, so if you’re interested in learning a new script then you can save this post aside.
Number 10: Hanzi
你好/nǐhǎo in hanzi
Starting soft we have Chinese characters. You may have seen them in your favourite Chinese drama, from the recent lunar (Chinese) new year or behind the contents of your shampoo bottle.
This script uses logograms 日 (symbol for sun), ideograms 二 (ideas like the number 2), semantics usually to show the meaning like the 女(woman) in 她(she), and phonetics to show how it’s pronounced like the 也 in 她(tā).
I had some fun learning the stroke order and the meanings behind each character, like the word for adultery is comprised of three women 姦 and the word for mother written with the characters for female and a horse 妈/媽。
Adaptability to other languages: possible
Difficulty: it takes memorization to learn each character/compound words
Experience: little, i gave up after missing my card reviews 🙁
The script: 8/10 would learn it again
Number 9: Arabic
سلام/سلام/Salām in Nastaliq Arabic
Arabic is one of those scripts that would discourage you from learning it with its noodly figures and “consonant only” writing. It takes time and practice for you to work it out.
The Nastaliq style of Arabic can be seen through Urdu and Persian texts, while Naskh is seen pretty much everywhere. These are the equivalents of the cursive and printed styles of Arabic as they are in English respectively.
I personally find Nastaliq Arabic as one of the sexiest scripts out there and not once will anyone disprove this. I didn’t learn this style as it has fewer online resources and it is difficult to write with.
If you want to adapt the Arabic script you will pick between modern v.s. old Arabic. I suggest learning old Arabic as it is more logical and context based compared to modern Arabic where the consonants “alif, waw, and yaa” are used as vowels too. If you want vowel representation, you can use “7arakat”; otherwise, adapt modern Arabic.
Adaptability: yes, by adding a fair amount of diacritics/letters you can adapt it
Difficulty: writing; fairly difficult
Experience: fair knowledge, I can read a little but not write
the script: 9/10 bootiful
Number 8: Devanāgarī
नमस्ते/Namaste in Devanagari
Devanagari (or Nagari) is most notable for its letters tied up by a skewer. It is used with Hindi and other Indian-related languages like Sanskrit.
What i find cool abt Nagari (and the whole Brahmi family) are the vowels and the Sanskrit arrangement of sounds.
Each consonant is always followed by a vowel like प as in Pa. Unlike Hiragana or Katakana (japanese syllabaries) Nagari employs diacritics to represent a change in vowels. So Pi would be पि, Pu would be पु, and P by itself would be प्.
The only thing i find difficult in this script are the conjunct consonants. They can look irregular and really weird in my opinion.
Calligraphic: yes, and it’s beautiful
Adaptability: highly adaptable
Difficulty: conjunct consonant, but it shouldn’t be too difficult
Experience: i’ve learned other brahmi scripts before but devanagari so i know the basics but not the writing system itself. Tldr: can’t read nor write but still learning
the script: 10/10 lovely
Number 7. Cyrillic
Чао/Čao in Cyrillic
Cyrillic is better known as the Russian alphabet among the interwebs. Alongside Greek, Cyrillic has letters similar looking to the Latin alphabet, such as Я(ya/ja), И(i), Н(n), and Е(ye/je) that don’t exactly sound alike. Cyrillic was based off Greek created by the two brothers who spread Christianity to the east.
This is the first script that I’ve learned and at first the shapes were somewhat confusing but as I immersed by reading and writing (both in printed and italics) I got rid of half of the confusion.
The only part I found difficult is the writing. Cursive Cyrillic (italics) is… different. The shape “m” for the cursive “т”(t) can be found mostly in russian cursive.
Calligraphic: Old church slavonic is beautiful but modern calligraphy looks like latin calligraphy with style
Adaptability: Yes, it’s similar to latin and you can add or remove letters and diacritics all you like.
Difficulty: handwriting cursive, otherwise, use block letters
Experience: i can read and write since last year
The script: 6/10, I like it like how I like Latin but +6 for style points and more letters for more sounds.
Number 6: Hangeul
안녕하세요/Annyeonghaseyo in hangul
Unlike the scripts we have listed so far, Hangeul/Hangul is a scientific alphasyllabary designed and created for the Korean language specifically. This writing system was created by king Sejong of the Chosŏng dynasty.
It is also used in Jeju languages of the Jeju island.
Each syllable is comprised of letters. 헌 (han) is divided into ㅎ (h), ㅓ/어 (a), and ㄴ (n). Even the letters have their own meaning.
The letter for the sound /n/ (ㄴ) is the shape of the tongue touching the tip of the mouth; adding another stroke to that (ㄷ) changes the sound from /n/ to /d/ and by adding another stroke (ㅌ) you’ll get the sound /t/. Vowels also have their own logic but i recommend you googling all of this by yourself or check out the resources i provided below.
The korean writing system is very logical and people find this to be great. When I first saw it i was delighted and tried to learn it. I have my own opinions about it tho when people try to adapt it.
Calligraphic: it can be geometric or east asian style brush calligraphy
Adaptability: like I said earlier, the korean writing system is made for itself cough cough
cia– cia. I have mixed opinions on the case of adaptability. You can adapt hangul directly however it has a limited phonology so you might want to bring back some obsolete characters or reassign them.
Difficulty: it’s very easy to learn by getting to know the basics
Experience: I once adapted it to Tagalog once, I can read and write but i’m not fluid and my handwriting isn’t even trying
The script: 8/10, it’s logical and encourages people to be creative with its history and learnability
Number 5: Tengwar
Atasse in Tengwar Quenya mode
Now we’re getting deep in here. You may or may not have heard of Tengwar/Elvish. This script is used in elvish languages like Sindarin and Quenya created by J.R. Tolkien for his book series later to be adapted to a movie franchise (and yes, Elvish languages are REAL languages like French and English are)!
Tengwar is similar to Korean in terms of its scientificness and Arabic/Nagari in terms of its looks and diacritics. Its order is similar to how Sanskrit and Japanese orders its consonants. Depending on the mode of writing, Tengwar can be an alphabet or an abuguda iirc.
I find Tengwar to be beautiful and really deserved its recognition. Just like Hangul, Tengwar inspires creativity among language communities and makes this message clearer with its simplicity and pretty design all created by one person.
Adaptablity: highly adaptable. tengwar is also open to more letters and diacritics just like English mode
Difficulty: it’s as easy as hangul but there may be timed where you find some stuff confusing
Experience: i did my research back then but i’m not confident with my reading and writing skills
The script: 10/10 ∵ it’s beautiful and logical
Number 4: Ogham
woah that’s a long image
ᚇᚔᚐ ᚇᚒᚔᚈ /Dia duit in Ogham
Ogham/Ogam is the writing system of the Old Irish and Pictish languages of Ireland and the British isles. It was used to be carved on stones, on trees, and written in manuscripts later on.
Ogham functions as an alphabet like English but is usually written from bottom to top. It resembles sticks across, on, at the left or at the right of a longer grove.
Calligraphic: unfortunately not from what I’ve seen so far but you can see logos with ogham circling it — I don’t even think it’s meant to be calligraphic.
Adaptability: the sound inventory is little so you might want to add in some old letters
Difficulty: it isn’t that hard since it just feels like drawing sticks
Experience: little, I only created charts but never used it
The script: 7/10 it’s good as it is
Number 3: Tagbanwa
ᝫᝬᝧᝲᝳ ᝥ ᝠᝩᝳᝨᝲᝳ/Mayad nga apon in Tagbanua
Heading on to the southern east we have Tagbanua/Tagbanwa in the island of Palawan, of the Philippines.
The Tagbanua script also known natively as Apurahuano is a sister script of Devanagari, meaning they’re related in some way. Many believe Tagbanua came from the Old Kawi script or most probably from the South Sulawesi scripts.
Just like Devanagari each consonant inherents the “a” sound and is modified by adding a dot either in the top to represent the “i” sound, or at the bottom for the “u” sound.
There are no vowel cancellers in Tagbanua so they don’t write them. So “Tagbanwa” is always written as “Tabawa.” Thanks to the age of the internet you can use a dot above and below to cancel the “a” sound. Its sister script already adapted the use of the sukun/circle on top from the Arabic missionaries to cancel a vowel.
I find this script to be beautiful and somewhat mininalist. The Da or La characters are used to represent Ra as there is no separate character for it. You can also use the “i” letter/diacritic to represent the “e” sound in the language.
Calligraphic: possible but i haven’t seen any images online
Adaptability: the sound inventory is very small to be adapted unless your language is fit for it.
Difficulty: it’s easy to learn
Experience: been reading and writing since last year
The script: 7/10 it’s okay
Number 2: Kulitan
Kamustá in Kulitan
Another writing system from the Philippines: Kulitan. Kulitan uses the shapes of tagbanwa, the vowels of Devanagari, and the syllable structure of Hangul.
Kulitan is written from top to bottom, right to left and is mostly used for special events relating to the Kapampangan heritage.
Unlike other Philippine scripts kulitan’s vowel logic makes it seem a bit alien and difficult to learn from a Tagbanwa perspective but makes it easier for those who already know Devanagari.
I personally defend this script from non kapampangan speakers and when they seriously want to learn it i teach them all they have to know. Usually they don’t take my advice and ride the coaster by themselves and use it incorrectly.
(Note: I don’t speak kapampangan but I took the time and effort of researching to learning this script from a scientific and kapampangan approach.)
Difficulty: it is difficult to learn thanks to the lack of resources for english speakers but I dipped my finger into the warm water and saw all that I need to know (dropping the resources that you need below)
Calligraphic: yes, it kinda looks like east asian calligraphy with each brush stroke
Adaptability: it’s possible but just like tagbanwa it has that many consonant sounds.
Experience: i can read and write since months ago (but not fluid)
The script: 9/10 it’s a nice script to learn but minus one point thanks to nationalism /hj
Now we’re almost to the last and my favorite one, but before that i have featured a few more scripts where i have little to no experience in but deserved a place here.
A good basis of each script can be found via these wiki links except for the last one (it’s my proto-script :O)
1. Canadian Syllabics
“If I were left behind, would you come for me?”
This, beautiful masterpiece is created as a writing system for another constructed language called Tsevhu. However, with its own grammar and lexicon it feels more of a different language of its own.
Each ripple is divided into sounds from the center of the ripple to the outside creating words functioning like an alphabet.
The fishes and the bubble trails contain the grammar structure of the written language. Without them, you’ll only have floating unconnected words with no tense, aspect or grammar.
There is also a shorthand writing system that looks similar to the ripples which functions more like an abugida than an alphabet, and you can write an entire sentence with it without figuring out grammar!
Difficulty: the shorthand is very simple to learn. The koiwrit one contains a lot of grammar that you need to piece together which makes it more difficult than the former.
Calligraphic: it can be decorated a lot to make it seem more like a painting/drawing than a writing system
Adaptability: it is possible to adapt both as i m doing now. But it’s probably better to adapt the language to Koiwrit instead of Koiwrit to the language (because grammar)
Experience: still learning how to put clauses together!!!!
The script: 11/10, it’s very beautiful and it doesnt look like a script from first glance which excited me when i first saw it
If you liked the list and you’re inspired to learn a new writing system, do! If not then just give it some time to think then give it a try, it shouldn’t hurt to do so wink wink.
Wanting to learn a new script but don’t know where to start? Just pick any and stick with your choice even if you think it’s difficult at some point of learning it after.
Always note that you should learn the sound of the letter, not the romanization. Don’t think of cyrillic в as the letter v in latin, but think how it sounds alike.
As promised, here are the resources i have used if you’re learning any of the writing systems above.
DM (@NickEman132) your favorite Oreo flavor to be featured in my next post!