golyplot wrote:Instead we got a writing system designed for French typewriters, which hence requires the awful x-hack in order to write today.
I mean, Google tells me that accents on French typewriters were a keystroke, but there's no caron (aka haček) on a French typewriter.
I mean, people often say that Zamenhof can't be blamed for failing to anticipate technology problems, but that ignores the fact that there were technological matters in his own time that he was not adequately dealing with.
Aside from the question of whether there were any typewriters that had both a caron and a cedilla on them, there is the issue that printing founts contained specific metal objects for accented characters, because if they didn't the process of printing would be massively more time-consuming. The accented characters of Esperanto are pretty unique (circumflexes over consonants; a caron over a vowel) so it was incompatible with most presses.
The language that was cheapest and quickest to print in was probably English (or maybe even Dutch) because they used smaller founts as a result of having no troublesome diacritics to deal with, and crucially that English's multiple consonant phonemes could be handled in part by the addition of an h (and in part by the fact that English orthography is totally messed up, but that's by-the-bye).
Esperanto was written when fount-based printing was at full swing. Zamenhof created an orthography that needed its own fount and its own typewriter, because practically no language in Europe could offer the diacritics for either the typewriter or printing.
Zamenhof's philosophy of "one letter, one sound" was laudable, but it was impractical. The only way to make it practical would have been to eliminate diacritics and therefore reduce the number of phonemes. Which would have made it more internationally usable, because it would have reduced the phonetic difficulty of the language.
Fun facts regarding fount-based printing:
Scottish Gaelic was printed without diacritics for several years, because the printers had founts designed for writing English.
Printers on mainland Europe eliminated diacritics from capitals because doing so saved them money and time. The Italian printers replaced the diacritics with apostrophes, a habit that survives to this day (eg E'
instead of É
). My recollection is that the elimination of accented upper-case started in France, but I imagine that there would have been a pushback on the commercial companies seen to be "degrading" the language by doing so.