As I was thinking of making a unique writing system for one of my conlangs, I came across that perennial question for anyone doing the same. What kind of writing system should I choose. For the language in question, Aelatha, I want something both aesthetic and functional. I want eye candy with a purpose. So, I decided to weigh the pros and cons of different types of writing systems together. The following is a list of pros and cons of different writing systems and shows only my opinion, please comment and leave your opinions.
In an alphabet, each graph (letter) represents one phone (sound), though there's no way you should be reading this without knowing what an alphabet is.
- I feel it's the (second) most beneficial to a highly literate society especially in languages that are written phonetically as learning new words is as simple as sounding it out.
- Easiest to make. Just take each sound a language offers and give a lecture representation to each sound
- It's easiest to mispronounce words given that sounds change over time and the change isn't always reflected in the orthography (spelling). Engliah and French are well known examples.
- It's difficult to distinguish between homonyms (words spelled the same way) in this system without knowing the context.
- Most graphs per sentence
In a syllabary, each graph (letter) represents an entire syllable. Japanese Hiragana and Katakana are examples. Korean Hangeul can also be said to be this.
- Alike an alphabet, literacy is made easy: one learns the syllable a letter represents.
- Learning a syllabary (where you sound out syllables in words) may be easier than an alphabet (where you sound out each individual sound)
- The less constrained a language, the more letters exist as there will be more possible syllables
- Alike an alphabet, it's hard to distinguish between homonyms in this case
In a logography, the graph (letter) represents an entire word or morpheme (part of a word that has a meaning). As far as this blog is concerned, this includes pictograms (letters looking like the thing the entire word they represent) and ideograms (letters represent ideas). Japanese Kanji is arguably somewhere between a logograph and a syllabary.
- Capable of being the easiest to read if pictogramming is used as words represent things or ideas known to the person will also look like the objects.
- Least graphs per sentence
- Most difficult to learn; likely to have more graphs, graphs that represent non-concrete things and ideas will always be ideographs thus never looking like what they are (a word can not look like happiness or probability)
- Takes longest to make
In an abugida, vowels do not share the same status as consonants. An abugida is an alphabet in the sense that each graph represents a letter, but a syllabary in the sense that vowels are written as secondary graphs around the consonant which don't share the same status, such as all consonants being capitalized and all vowels lowercase or having all vowels written as superscripts or subscripts. Arabic is an example of an abugida. Abjad will be under this as the status of vowels differs in it as well; in abjad, vowels are entirely absent or optional. The pros and cons of an abugida are the same as those of an alphabet in my opinion but add these:
- The con of perhaps having the most homonyms of all the writing systems in the event that vowels are optional or absent as in abjad; words differing through only vowels become homonyms (last, list, lest, lost and lust all become lst, last meaning both prior and final is already a homophobe itself)
In comparison to my conlang
In comparison to the conlang in question, the syllabary would make the least sense because the lang isn't very constrained and a logography is what I desire most simply because it's odd to me... I like odd things. (But I am too impatient to go through with something like that. Impatient. That's an understatement.)
I'd like to know what all of you think (about either writing systems, or which one I should choose for Aelatha), as well as other ideas for making a writing system: writing direction, different writing systems for different genders of people, etc.