Saturday, September 23, 2006


Another brief curiosity: this site shows an animated derivation of language starting with the Phoenicians and early Greeks. I can't vouch for its accuracy. But what struck me visually was the way in which letters became mirror images. A transversal of characters took place.

It reminds me of the "translation" of the great works which occurred in the Middle Ages by monks. Books and treatises in languages as diverse as Arabic became latinized versions, and if an Arabic word was unknown to the monk/transcriber, well then an educated guess was made.

Anyway, looking at this model of alphabet conversion really brings together the influence of the early Christian church, the theocracy which owned the language of its contempoaries and the language of those who preceded them by centuries.

Maybe I'm too twisted with my interpretation but it's easy to frame both the rewriting by the monks and the co-opting of the actual form and character of language as a deliberate attempt to take ownership. Changing the appearance a language has as profound an effect as changing the content of a book through a reinterpretation/revision. It destroys. It subsumes. It establishes new authority.

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