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Woman holding infant with outstretched arm.


I love you   =  I ♥️ U  =   <3

Antonio Baroni (2011)


Language, sound and writing A page or Hieratic writing from the Cairo Museum. Socrates observes that writing supports rather than replaces thought. intertwine. Clarifying our understanding of their interactions is complex. Nineteenth century philology promoted alphabetic writing systems, claiming they exemplified European cultural superiority. The Houses of Parliament across the Thames. Vying for superiority, infects our view of language and related matters. While that blinkered ethnocentrism did decline, it still left some twentieth century writers, such as Marshall McLuhen and colleagues, proposing that western mental and technical sophistication owed much to our alphabetic system and its way of abstraction. A view which somehow left the thought of mathematicians (dealing in concepts and symbols), Lotus buds rising above muddy water.
The central place of symbols in our thinking.

Chinese citizens (character users), and those not enjoying literacy (nevertheless agile in thought) Ba Hai in her beer bar in Tinh Gia.
Continuing disentangling these concepts.

as thereby handicapped. Apart from the erroneous conflation of thought and language shown, more recent linguists such as Baroni, find no such drift towards alphabets in human civilisations. He paints a more nuanced picture and by way of quick illustration points out how texters are tending to move away from alphabets and towards the use of symbols and ideograms. Numbers, logograms, Man looking at a board covered in white marks.
The range of forms logograms can take.

pictures, and alphabets are not rivals in a race, rather all variously contribute to thought’s wondrous armoury.

Baroni’s paper, in which he gives this example on page 147, is titled Alphabetic vs. non-alphabetic writing: Linguistic fit and natural tendencies and appeared in Rivista di Linguistica 23.2 (2011), pp. 127-159. He uses a texters' example, (not immediately obvious - a heart on its side which stands for ‘I love you’) as offering a highly efficient communication. An example of the opposite opinion to Baroni, which emphases cultural progress being demonstrated by the use of alphabets, is given by Ignace Jay Gelb in his book A Study of Writing (1952). And McLuhan’s argument, about technical sophistication, appears in: McLuhan, Marshall & Robert K. Logan (1977) Alphabet, Mother of Invention, Etcetera 34. pp 373-383.

The photograph, of maternal love, was taken at a friend’s brother’s house in Shiraz, Iran, in 1973. It shows his wife and child; a photograph, in a house, by a man, not a follower of Islam - quite a demonstration, as is so common, of kindness and tolerance, by an Islamic host.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 13th November 2021

Murphy on duty to this site