Message from the grave from jan Wiko

Signs and symbols: Writing systems (hieroglyphs, nail writing) and Signed Toki Pona; unofficial scripts too
Signoj kaj simboloj: Skribsistemoj (hieroglifoj, ungoskribado) kaj la Tokipona Signolingvo; ankaŭ por neoficialaj skribsistemoj
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Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:21 pm
Location: Takoma Park, MD

Message from the grave from jan Wiko

Postby janMato » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:07 pm

Rick sent me this back in Dec of 2010 when I asked him about his cuneiform proposal that was posted in 2008 to the jan sona mailing list (not normally visible)

Here is the jan sona posting:
I think that the concept of "writing" (information which can be
stored, copied, attatched or sent) is fundamental. We struggle so
often with how to name things like web pages and books that maybe what
we really need is a new word.

Sonja, if you're thinking of adding new words... how about, "kipu"?

I tokiponized the Esperanto word "skribu" but it came out looking a
lot like the Quechua (Inca) word "khipu" for their writing system of
"talking knots". Funny...

Anyway, it' just a quick thought while I'm waking up and haven't yet
plunged into the business of the day. I've been playing with
alternate forms of writing, using modern alphabetic codes in
ancient-style media. For example, I came up with a cuneiform based on
Braille, and a khipu based on Morse code.

I asked him if he developed the idea any further and he wrote back...
jan Mato o! toki!

That seems so long ago... I remember carrying around a little
"tablet" of modeling clay and a square-cornered stylus in my pocket to
try out different ways. It's "cuneiform", by the way.

The idea was to use just a few simple rules to adapt a known alphabet
to a new medium. This way, it would still be recognizable and
writable. Now that I think about it though, Braille was a bad choice.

Flag semaphore would work much better since it can represent every
letter with only two strokes. The fat end of a cuneiform wedge would
represent the flag and the narrow end would point roughly to the
center of the symbol.

o tawa pona.
mi jan Wiko.

and this

One thing I learned about cuneiform though, was something you could
only figure out by actually playing with it.

The wedge-ended stylus they show in most illustrations of cuneiform
are all wrong. A sharp wedge simply won't make the shape seen on the
old tablets, and turning the whole stick this way and that is a major
pain in the ass. There's no way it would have been considered better
than just a pointed stick. And it turns out that nobody knows what
the actual stylus used looked like because none have been found or
identified as of yet.

So I wondered what sort of shape would be handy. Looking at photos of
the tablets, it dawned on me that the triple-corner-point of the
wedge-shaped indentations looked more like a right-angle corner, like
the corner of a cube... or like the end of a stick with a *square*

I cut the end of a round stick to a square shape. Each corner on the
end of the stick has three edges which can be used to make those wedge
impressions, so it was also really easy to make cuneiform wedge
impressions in all sorts of different directions just by tilting or
twisting the stick a little bit, instead of swinging the whole thing
around for each new direction. If I ever decide to go for a Masters
degree in Archaeology, I know how I would go about proving that this
was the way they used to do it.

My guess is that the first wedge-writing symbols were probably
invented by someone using the corners of a brick to make marks in mud
or soft clay.

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