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Are alphabets dying?
January 1, 2013
12:11
Raphacam
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I have on Facebook some Russian girls I've met long time a go, a music producer and friend from Ukraine and I've frequently seen some random Greek speakers all around the internet. A peculiarity is that I more often see them communicate informally to their fellow countrymen in the Latin alphabet, instead of using their respective writing systems, probably because the internet doesn't let them comfortable enough for this…

Well, I've been constantly thinking of what will be from the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets in fifty years. I mean, not only are the alphabets in conflict with the Latin script, both (plus Armenian and Georgian alphabets) are supported by the Orthodox Church, a church that's been losing strength. I can simply see in fifty years Ellenika, Russkiy, Ukrayins'ka, Hayeren and Kartuli being written in their respective countries.

What do you think of this?

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January 1, 2013
14:19
Gaius Julius

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I also noticed that. Programs do not support the language, so instead of going to lengths to try and adapt the system, people prefer to transliterate.

I'll give the example from the only language where I can really attest to any phenomenon, Arabic:

http://www.facebook.com/Lebanese.memes

This is a "meme" page from Lebanon. About 60% of all the jokes there are transliterated, which in my opinion is a staggering amount for a country with better education than most Arab countries. In my opinion it comes down to the Arabic keyboard being completely impractical and uncomfortable, but I have to admit that I haven't asked any Arab person about this.

 

In Hebrew I never noticed this happening. Sometimes when Hebrew fails for some reason, we switch to transliteration in English, but in other cases we continue to write normally.

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January 1, 2013
14:20
tudou93
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I don't know about Greek, but I can tell you based on the conversations I've seen between my Azeri, Russian, and Mongolian friends that the Cyrillic alphabet still has a presence online. Or at least on Facebook. Korean is pretty strong too.

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January 1, 2013
15:27
Sebastian
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First of all, I rarely see Russians write in the Latin alphabet on Facebook or vkontakte (a social network which is widely more used than Facebook in Russia). Normally they just use the Latin script, if they are to lazy to switch their keyboard settings back from Latin to Cyrillic.

 

Why should it be inconvenient to use the Cyrillic script in the Internet? Using the Latin transliteration instead of Cyrillic letters is even more inconvenient. For example instead of the easy word "щи" you have to write Shchi, Schtschi, Chtchi or Szczi, depending on which of the transliteration/transcription systems you use. These different transliteration systems even make it sometimes hard to figure out, what somebody wants to write.

All in all I don't see any reason, why the Cyrillic script should be abolished. Furthermore giving up the Cyrillic script means to give up a big part of the Russian culture. It's the same as giving up the Chinese characters and using pinyin. Do you know any Russian who wants to give up the Cyrillic script? I don't.

By the way: In fact, the Orthodox Church is today much more powerful than in Soviet times. But concerning the Cyrillic script, that doesn't matter at all.

January 1, 2013
22:44
Raphacam
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I don't see the usage of their own alphabets as over, just decreasing, that's what I think that may finish alphabets.

The internet has a very small set of fonts and codes for other alphabets, and whenever they have to write in a foreign language, Latin is necessary.

 

Sebastian said
By the way: In fact, the Orthodox Church is today much more powerful than in Soviet times. But concerning the Cyrillic script, that doesn't matter at all.

The Cyrillic, Greek, Armenian and Georgian scripts are actually strongly connected with the church… All countries that use these scripts (with the exception of a couple Cyrillic countries) are consisted mainly of Orthodox Christians. And the Church is more powerful than in Soviet times now, but incomparably weaker than before them, and getting even weaker. I can number a couple of Slavic friends of mine that switched to other religion or none smile

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January 2, 2013
04:17
Kevinpost
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I saw a lot of my Iranian friends use transliterations of Farsi to send text messages because their phones (purchased in Turkey) wouldn't support the Persian alphabet. Other than that I haven't witnessed too many alphabets dying.

Couchsurfers from Russia that stayed with me were adamant about changing my key board to Cyrillic without telling me.

In the northern territories of Canada Inuits are going to great lengths to create computer and phone applications that support Inuktitut Syllabics even though most (if not all) computer savvy Inuits use the Latin alphabet regularly. 

There was a podcast about different alphabets and the internet that was fascinating and I'll post it here when I find it. 

This is an interesting discussion. 

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January 2, 2013
04:21
Kevinpost
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Raphacam said 
The internet has a very small set of fonts and codes for other alphabets, and whenever they have to write in a foreign language, Latin is necessary.

This is true. Why is it that the Persian and Arabic fonts are always tiny are hardly readable on Facebook and Twitter?

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January 2, 2013
12:36
Raphacam
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Kevinpost said

Raphacam said 
The internet has a very small set of fonts and codes for other alphabets, and whenever they have to write in a foreign language, Latin is necessary.

This is true. Why is it that the Persian and Arabic fonts are always tiny are hardly readable on Facebook and Twitter?

Yeah, I've realised that as well, that's probably some programming mistake that went uncorrected. The Khmer alphabet is also unreadable, so small it is.

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January 5, 2013
08:29
Randybvain
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No, it is not true. You just see a small part of written culture. These people may have problem with hardware, software or be lazy. Computers and phones usually have keyboards with Latin alphabet and many of them don't have software support of languages else than English. For example I can't use any Polish fonts on my phone. I can do it on a smartphone, but it is pain in the neck – the keys on the touchscreen are too small and getting to the proper font takes to much time. I can imagine the youth also want to write faster so they use the fastest way, just as English write R U instead of are you.

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The Minstrel's Glade

January 5, 2013
13:41
Raphacam
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Yeah, Randybvain, your words make sense as always. But don't you think this deteriorates the usage of the alphabet?

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January 5, 2013
16:03
Randybvain
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Yes, to some degree. The habits of informal usage might pass to the formal one, but still I cannot imagine a normal newspaper written in this way. A book, yes, because it might be considered as kind of art – there were some movements founded on disregard to the orthography.

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The Minstrel's Glade

January 5, 2013
17:49
Raphacam
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Well, not in our times, I'd say.

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April 11, 2013
07:15
Chipple23
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Hello, new to forum here.

There are several reasons why the Lebanese use transliteration and latin characters when composing on a computer or phone.

Lebanese is not the same language as Arabic. You may be fluent in Arabic and understand only a small percentage of a conversation in Lebanese (ask me how I know yell). When you see arabic subtitles in a lebanese movie, the translation at the bottom is in "modern standard arabic" and not in lebanese, which is very difficult to express using Arabic characters. In the past many people claimed that Lebanese was only a spoken language and was not written. Today this is certainly not true, as the lebanese primarily text and email using latin characters with special characters and numbers representing sounds not found in the english language (2, 3, 5, 7 represent some of these). It is both a faster and more flexible way of expressing the spoken language digitally. Unfortunately there is no widely accepted "standard" format for characters. I suspect that will be changing soon. In the meantime, it will take you about 2 minutes to decipher which letters and characters represent which sounds regardless of which method the writer uses to represent the lebanese language.

Many lebanese people know both English and French, which makes the transition to latin characters that much more intuitive. I am amazed at how many young adults are perfectly fluent in English, French, Lebanese an Arabic. German is also quite popular as a third or 4th language as well.

 The standard arabic alphabet is not going anywhere for now. It is used to express "arabic" in advertisements, news, magazines, books and just about anthing else for which an informal language system would be inappropriate. So essentially instead of killing an alphabet, the lebanese have invented another.

 

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April 12, 2013
08:41
Stephanie S
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I've noticed this phenomenon with Punjabi speakers from both Pakistan and India who live in the United States. They speak Punjabi fluently, but especially if they grew up in the US, they learned very little Arabic or Gurmukhi before immigrating, or even if they came as adults, they don't have as much natural opportunity to use their scripts and they start to forget them. On facebook they often write in their own language using Latin script. 

A Chinese friend also told me that texting, etc. is causing Chinese to forget how to write. Chinese digital writing is done using Pinyin (the official Latin text Chinese script) and then choosing possible tonal variants from a drop down menu. It is fast and practical, and honestly I can't really think of another way Chinese could be produced on a keyboard, unless keys represented strokes and there was some way of putting them where you wanted them. I had a friend from Hong Kong living in the US who kept her journal in Chinese specifically so she wouldn't forget how to write it. 

Stephanie

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