From: Peter Larsen <plarsen_at_gslis.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 20:08:41 -0500

Henrix (and David Weihe and Peter Metcalfe) says some things about runes, including:

>But there's no doubt that all forms of runes used in Europe were related
to (and
>descended from) Phoenician (probably by way of early Greek) alphabets.

        That's what I thought, but I didn't want to boldly assert it before doing the research, which I'm too busy (or possibly lazy) to do properly. Thanks!

Peter Metcalfe says to me:

>Peter Larsen:
>> I imagine that Dara Happa is a lot like the Fertile Crescent, with
>>a little Egypt thrown in (there's that whacking big river with its floods
>>and all...). All of these cultures at least started out with ideographic
>>writing systems;
>No, they didn't. After Sumerian (which had phonetic complements,
>determinatives and grammatical particles), most of the Mesopotamian
>scripts are logosyllabic, simply because they were Semitic languages
>rather than the monosyllabic, agglutinative Sumerian language.

        My understanding of cuneiform (which is sketchy and a while ago with a recent brush-up with the Britannica) is that it began as picture writing and quickly gained a sound component. The other nations that adopted them assigned their languages sounds to the pictures still inherent in the symbols. So they were phonetic, but still contained a pictoral quality, at least in theory.

>>why not Dara Happa.
>Because it's already been decided that Dara Happan is a lettered
>alphabet, simplified from the older Buserian runes.

        Sadly, that seems to be the case, but "Because I'm the daddy and I say so" does not go very far in explaining why it happened that way in Glorantha.

>>And that Plentonian alphabet looks
>>pretty much like all the other runic sets Mr. Stafford has created.
>That is as it should be for there's only very limited ways one
>can represent the sun as a picture (and there are similarities
>between archaic Sumerian and Shang dynasty tablets).

        By this reasoning, all RW writing systems should look pretty similar. In Dara Happa, the symbol for sun is going to have all sorts of implications that it will not for the Orlanthi.

>>Egyption hieroglyphics show a simpling over time as well
>The hieroglyphs remain as complicated as ever (and FWIW it's
>a consonantal script that uses determinatives instead of vowels).
>The only simplification that occurs is the reduction of formal
>pictures to squiggles for ease of handwriting.

        There is also a formalization of spelling because the hiratic and demotic (these aren't spelled right, but I'm in a hurry) are much more abstract, and you can't figure out the meaning by looking at the pictures.

>> >Apart from logographic scripts of the Chinese, the Japanese and the
>> >Mayas, most other scripts use what else is there? The Indian
>> >Devanagari, being a mixture of syllabic and alphabetic principles,
>> >is ancestral to other scripts in SE Asia (as well as Tibet), and
>> >that was practiced long before the Europeans. Korean Hangul was
>> >also invented before the Europeans came. There's also Rongorongo.
>>But this is a pretty wide range of "types," right?
>Of course it's a wide range of types. It's also a refutation of
>your premise that "[E]very other system (that I know of) did not
>simplify to the letter stage before contact with the European
>tradition.". Since the Indians at least were comfortable with
>letters, there's no compelling reason for anathematizing letters
>for west-central Genertelan cultures.

        I'll grant you the first part, since I don't know enough about the Indian systems. Your statement suggests that they have both alphabetic and syllabic elements, though. (Or was this referring to different systems in the sub-continent?). There is no reason to anathematize letters in west-central Genertela, but there's no really strong reason to accept letters without question either.

>>In Glorantha, we have the Western language(s), Dara Happan, and the
>>Orlanthi, apparantly all lettered alphabets.
>Which makes excellent sense to me given their respective analogies
>(largely within the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Europe).

        This argument suggest that the Western alphabet should arise from Dara Happan, because the letters of the RW culture the West is based on arose from the writing system of the RW analog for Dara Happa. Gloranthan cultures are based on RW parallels, obviously, but the Westerners are not medieval western Europeans, the Dara Happa are not Fertile Crecenters, the Orlanthi are not, well, Gaels or Celts or Germans or whatever. If there isn;'t a good reason for it, why not allow things to be different?

>> >FWIW given the transcription of foreign names (Oralanatus,
>> >Umatum etc.), Dara Happan might not be an true alphabet but a
>> >partial-syllabary.

        If this is the case, I'd be quite satisfied. Hopefully, it is not true or unchangeble that "it's already been decided that Dara Happan is a lettered alphabet."

>The Wendarian Runes look AFAIK similar to their Dara Happan
>parallels. The only runes that work pretty much like English is
>the Orlanthi one with EWF.

        The Entekosiad says (or strongly suggests) that Pelandan is syllabic. The Fortunate Succession gives us a mostly lettered script for Dara Happa. Now, either I'm falsely conflaiting Wendarian and Pelandan, or this can't be true. Can it? Those Plentonian letters look like they function just like english letters (maybe better, they are more firmly fixed to sounds). Just to be sure, Western is essentially the Romance Family (Latin as a root, Spanish or French or Italian in the various descendant cultures), right? So, presumably their written fors work pertty much like English. (I suspect that we're arguing about two different things here.)

>New Pelorian is descended from Old Pelorian, the mother language of
>the Wendarian. And it doesn't use Wendarian glyphs for the most part
>because the Plentonic script is so much easier. Lunars do use
>such glyphs when writing out their names but this is an affection
>more than anything else.

        This makes perfect sense to me except (as above) I'm confused about the relationship between Old Pelorian, Wendarian, Pelandan, and Dara Happan (which I'm assuming is seperate from the first three). Can you explain this or give me a source?

        David Weihe says a lot of things about writing that I'm not going to quote (trying to be better about rule #1). You seem to be thinking (and I may be brutally misquoting you) that the Middle Sea Merchants spread Western letters all over Glorantha. If so, I'm behind it. Letters are (as far as I can tell) more efficient and easier to learn than other systems (maybe the Japanese kana are just as easy, but they're part of a larger system). I suspect any culture that a) came into contact with the MSE, b) had any interest in a written language, and c) did not already have an established literary tradition, probably ended up with letters. Now, they shouldn't all be the same script; there are similarities between Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, Phonecian, various NE runes, etc, but they're certainly not interchangable.

Peter Larsen

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