Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby golyplot » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:23 am

This reminds me of the nightmares that U+180E: MONGOLIAN VOWEL SEPARATOR gives me as a programmer, since it switched character classes from Unicode 3 to 4 and then back again in Unicode 6.3, leading to much confusion. I never thought it'd be relevant in non programming fields.

https://codeblog.jonskeet.uk/2014/12/01 ... separator/
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby Saim » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:45 pm

Speakeasy wrote:
Putting aside the crippling expenses associated with translating legal statutes, official documents, and the like, there exists the thorny question of the competence of the army of translators who will be assigned the burdensome task of rendering the originals into the new script (archives and future documents). I seriously doubt that the Mongolian government has the human and financial resources necessary to doing a thorough job of it. So, untrained bilingual and semi-bilingual bureaucrats will be assigned a mountain of documents to translate: under pressure to meet ridiculously artificial deadlines and without any additional compensation. The quality of the translations will suck, big time! So, why should the Mongolian citizenry care?


If I’ve understood correctly, this has absolutely nothing to do with translation, as Mongolian is still Mongolian no matter what script is used.

The wording above is somewhat ambiguous, but I understood that they’re going to provide all future documents from 2025 onwards in the Mongolian script, not retroactively transliterate all previous documents. If they’re already digitalising all their documents it should be fairly uncomplicated to create a program that automatically transliterates texts so the labour time involved approachs zero.

Iversen wrote: And a construction with two competing writing system is bound to fail. Either you switch completely, or you stay put with your existing writing system.


Serbia hasn’t “failed” so far. Latin got a slight push due to the internet but other than that Cyrillic seems alive and well and most people use both scripts interchangeably. It may be an uncommon solution but there’s no inherent reason why it is “bound” not to work.
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby tungemål » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:12 pm

Regarding cyrillic and latin - I can see that cyrillic is more suited to slavic languages than the latin alphabet is. I don't know whether this is a controversial statement or not.

Actually, the serbian practice of using both cyrillic and latin might have some benefits: Today everyone has to learn the latin alphabet anyway, because of english. It is easier to learn the letters in relation to ones native tongue. Imagine the japanese children learning the alphabet in english class: ay, be, see, dee, ee etc. It must be confusing.

The mongolians then presumably know cyrillic, mongolian script, and latin. And maybe some chinese as well?
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby Speakeasy » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:31 pm

tungemål wrote:Regarding cyrillic and latin - I can see that cyrillic is more suited to slavic languages than the latin alphabet is. I don't know whether this is a controversial statement or not ...
The is no “natural” link between the Cyrillic script and the Slavic languages. Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, use a variant of the Latin alphabet and they’re no less Slavic for it. All Slavic languages could just as easily use Classical Chinese script, just as all spoken languages could use either a common script or a script for each language. The people speaking any given language need only arrive at a consensus as to what sounds, words, and concepts the ideograms in their script represent. Um, er, meiner Meinung nach*.

As an example of the arbitrary/subjective nature of scripts, this Wikipedia article gives the history of Inuktitut syllabics. As far as I understand, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, this aboriginal people had no written language. Their script was developed for them by outsiders (relatively recently in a historical context) who could have, had they wanted to, insisted on the use of the Latin alphabet and simply assigned Inuktitut phonology to the Latin alphabet. Perhaps they were attempting to avoid the mess that is English orthography? ;)

*meiner Meinung nach: in my opinion (avec remericients à Pimsleur: with thanks to Pimsleur)

EDITED:
Expansion of the text; Inuktitut syllabics
Last edited by Speakeasy on Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby Saim » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:24 pm

I agree. Both Cyrillic and Latin are just modified variants of Greek, in any case. :P
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby tungemål » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:08 pm

Speakeasy wrote:The is no “natural” link between the Cyrillic script and the Slavic languages. Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, use a variant of the Latin alphabet and they’re no less Slavic for it.

Of course, but what I had in mind is that there are many special characters in Cyrillic for all those sibilant sounds that abound in slavic languages: Щ Ш Ч Ц

All Slavic languages could just as easily use Classical Chinese script, just as all spoken languages could use either a common script or a script for each language.
Just as easily? I don't think you can be serious. Chinese script is one of the most difficult scripts to use. How efficient a writing system is - that is how easy it is to use and to learn it - of course varies. What I have read is that the korean Hangul is the most logical writing system developed. Still, there is no need (or desire) to start writing English with 한글.
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby Speakeasy » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:22 pm

Speakeasy wrote: All Slavic languages could just as easily use Classical Chinese script, just as all spoken languages could use either a common script or a script for each language.
tungemål wrote: Just as easily? I don't think you can be serious…
I am quite serious! With respect, I believe that you’re missing the point. Below are a few examples of scripts. None of them is more representative of spoken language than any other. They could all be used to represent any spoken language; the speakers need only come to an agreement as to what sounds and concepts the scribbles mean. Scripts are not naturally occurring, they are artificial constructions. Urdu script, Chinese script, Morse Code, or Emoji’s could quite literally be used to write the Slavic languages or any other languages. Scripts “make sense” only by convention.

Surely you would accept as a clear illustration of the notion that scripts are interchangeable is the fact that several scripts have been used to write the Mongolian language, including Cyrillic, and that the Mongolian government believes that restoration of a variant of one of this people’s historical scripts will be just as representative of the spoken language as Cyrillic has been … slam, dunk! ;)

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EDITED:
Tinkering.
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby verdastelo » Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:47 am

Speakeasy wrote:I am quite serious! With respect, I believe that you’re missing the point. Below are a few examples of scripts. None of them is more representative of spoken language than any other. They could all be used to represent any spoken language; the speakers need only come to an agreement as to what sounds and concepts the scribbles mean. Scripts are not naturally occurring, they are artificial constructions. Urdu script, Chinese script, Morse Code, or Emoji’s could quite literally be used to write the Slavic languages or any other languages.


Theoretically, yeah. All scripts are interchangeable. But in practice, it's not so simple.

I have two extreme examples in mind: Sanskrit and Classical Chinese.

Sanskrit can be (and was) written in almost all the Indic scripts. More information on the Writing Systems of Sanskrit.

In contrast, using a transcription to record Classical Chinese is likely to lead to gibberish.

Here is a verse in Classical Chinese:

中秋時節最宜人
萬里澄空月一輪

Transcription (Vietnamese):

Trung thu thời tiết tối nghi nhân
Vạn lý trừng không nguyệt nhất luân

Translation (Vietnamese)

Trung thu thời tiết hợp lòng người
Muôn dặm trăng treo sáng giữa trời

Translation (English)

The weather and festival of Mid-Autumn is most pleasing
Across ten-thousand miles of clear sky hangs the moon, a single orb

(Source: Nguyễn Thụy Đan – Randomly improvised on Mid-Autumn)

I will be surprised if the transcription makes any sense to a Vietnamese. Then, there is the famous Story of the Tiger Shi. Even if we assume for a minute that the story is an exaggeration, it will still be difficult to believe that a script has no impact whatsoever on the language it is being used to record. In contrast to Japanese and Korean, Mandarin doesn't have many loan words. The script makes it difficult. Why would you write 德謨克拉西 (de mo ke la xi) when you can 民主 (democracy)?

In her 日本語が亡びるとき 英語の世紀の中で (The Fall of the Japanese Language in the Age of English ), Minae Mizumura (水村美苗) mentions a poem of Hagiwara Sakutaro (萩原朔太郎). The poem is ふらんす (France).

ふらんすへ行きたしと思へども
ふらんすはあまりに遠し
せめては新しき背広をきて
きままなる旅にいでてみん。

Here's her commentary on the poem:

Image

You can discount her comments as the ramblings of a writer, but we cannot overlook the research papers that suggest reading Kanji (or Hanzi) and an alphabetic script activate different parts of the brain. So it's not as if abolishing Kanji will have no impact whatsoever.

Yiddish can liberally borrow words from Hebrew because of its script, but German doesn't. It would look odd. To the fright of an ordinary Chinese, Xiao'erjing is capable of easily assimilating Persian and Arabic words.

If we want a real world example, we can consider this Dungan text:

Җүнмый Нооруз җечи!
Няннян санйиүә 21 йиче минжын бу фын минзў ба Нооруз дон минлён зэмусы тэпин, тунйи, пиннан җечи на да щихуан гуәдини.

Кәсы җиннян Хырхыз Республикади Җынфу, ви бохў минжынди гончён, вәё бә җё даҗун дый коронавирус бин, динди дян ба Нооруз җечи бу гуә. Зусы җыгә еба мый йигә җящя, мый йигә жын җыдони – Чунтян долэли, ду нансуанди гуә пинан-вусы жызыни!

(Source: Ассоциация Дунган Кыргызстана)

Dungan is similar to Mandarin Chinese but it's written in Cyrillic so it can borrow words relatively easily. Notice Russian (Республикади) and Persian (Нооруз) words. We cannot just attribute their presence to geographical proximity. Hong Kong was a British colony for almost a century but their written language doesn't (from what I know) have many borrowings from English.

So, I think that the choice of script does influence the evolution of a language. A script is a technology or a tool and the tools you use influence your behaviour.

Speakeasy wrote:Scripts “make sense” only by convention.


I agree with you. But don't you think that this statement is a truism? I cannot think of any social behaviour or technology that isn't based on convention. The Qwerty keyboard is a convention. All Ausbau languages are convention. :)
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:35 pm

verdastelo wrote: Theoretically, yeah. All scripts are interchangeable. But in practice, it's not so simple. I have two extreme examples in mind …
Recognizing a truth and then denying it by pointing out someone else’s lack of imagination in applying it is a rather weak argument. This wouldn't pass even in a high school debating society.
Speakeasy wrote:Scripts “make sense” only by convention.…
verdastelo wrote: I agree with you. But don't you think that this statement is a truism? …
Acknowledging a truth, only to reject it by saying that is merely the truth, is pure sophism. Such statements are totally meaningless.

You obviously have more invested in this discussion that I do. I’m done, here.
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Re: Mongolian abandons Cyrillic alphabet

Postby tungemål » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:57 pm

I don't think anyone disagrees over anything fundamental here. Yes, in theory all scripts could be used for any language, and characters can be assigned an arbitrary value (they could have any sound or meaning). But in practice scripts come with thousands of years of cultural and political baggage.

Which brings us back to topic!
I guess Mongolia decides to use/not use a script because of a reason. They want to move away from russian influence. How practical it would be to use the mongolian script is probably not a reason.
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