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Jens
2007-Mar-22, 04:40 AM
I have a simple question, and I hope some of the smart people who inhabit this board and have an interest in history will have answers.

Basically, it's often said (and I agree) that strings of lowercase letters are easier to read than strings of uppercase letters. What I wonder is, why then did the Romans use all caps? Maybe it's just a very simple answer: because they hadn't developed them. But I could go a bit further and say, people say the reason that lowercase letters are easier to read is because of the ascenders and descenders (meaning, uppercase letters are all of the same height, but with lowercase letters, the "p" goes under the baseline whereas the "t" goes higher up). So why, then, did the Romans use letters without ascenders and descenders?

sarongsong
2007-Mar-22, 04:49 AM
Stone graffiti is easier with its (mostly) straight lines. http://bautforum.com/images/icons/icon10.gif

Jens
2007-Mar-22, 05:01 AM
Yeah, that's something that occurred to me. But I think the Romans also wrote on parchment and vellum as well. Though maybe that was a later development? Perhaps it's just that the straight lines were more appropriate for chisels, and as writing moved to vellum, the development of lowercase letters became beneficial.

01101001
2007-Mar-22, 05:25 AM
I would think part of the answer is that the roman alphabet wasn't exactly designed for speed reading, or much else, as a goal. It evolved. No ID. Mutations happened. Good stuff tended to be kept. Some bad stuff survived anyway.

Van Rijn
2007-Mar-22, 05:32 AM
According to this page (http://www.bellevuelinux.org/lower_case.html) (and it doesn't cite sources, but it sounds reasonable):

The Roman alphabet originally contained only a single form of letters, which today are referred to as upper case letters or, more commonly, capital letters. (Moreover, there was no spacing between words, nor was there any punctuation!)

Lower case letters originated from manuscript writing in the Middle Ages. Writing with pens caused the original, largely angular, characters to become rounder and simpler, and it also resulted in some of them extending beyond the lower boundary that restrained capital letters. Lower case became irresistible to manuscript writers because it was faster to write, it was easier to read and it conserved space on the costly parchment (which was made from animal skins and used instead of paper).

As it had already been common to make the first letter of each sentence as well as the first letter of each noun slightly larger than the other letters, it was a fairly logical progression to retain upper case letters for those situations and use lower case letters for almost everything else.

I did find other pages stating that lowercase came as a result of the development of cursive writing. So, it seems that the reason was that it hadn't been invented yet. As Bman said, it evolved.

Damien Evans
2007-Mar-22, 05:33 AM
Yeah, that's something that occurred to me. But I think the Romans also wrote on parchment and vellum as well. Though maybe that was a later development? Perhaps it's just that the straight lines were more appropriate for chisels, and as writing moved to vellum, the development of lowercase letters became beneficial.

the romans did write on some sort of "paper", whether it was parchment or the earlier papyrus i'm not sure, but i'd lean toward parchment or vellum

Gillianren
2007-Mar-22, 05:55 AM
As Van Rijn says, there wasn't a system to write anything but capitals yet. Besides, if you'll note, almost all capital letters are nothing but straight lines, whereas lower case letters are primarily curves. You try carving lots of curved lines on stones; it may be faster to read, but it's certainly slower to carve!

Jens
2007-Mar-22, 06:00 AM
Yes, that sounds quite reasonable to me as an explanation. I guess it's something like, "the media evolves in response to the technology". In a time when messages were primarily carved, the upper case letters were more convenient, and then the use of papyrus and vellum and parchment began to spread, and (with a delay) the letters evolved to fit the new medium.

HenrikOlsen
2007-Mar-22, 09:46 AM
For Greek inscriptions, they hadn't invented the space between words yet, and writing direction was a matter of taste, to the point where you'd have alternating direction from line to line.

Writing evolved.

Ronald Brak
2007-Mar-22, 10:05 AM
How hard is it to invent spaces between words? I mean really? After all they're already there on the page before you start writing.

Whirlpool
2007-Mar-22, 11:09 AM
As Van Rijn says, there wasn't a system to write anything but capitals yet. Besides, if you'll note, almost all capital letters are nothing but straight lines, whereas lower case letters are primarily curves. You try carving lots of curved lines on stones; it may be faster to read, but it's certainly slower to carve!

I haven't noticed that ! :think:

That is informative Gillianren. :D

Thanks!

NEOWatcher
2007-Mar-22, 12:26 PM
I never thought of that evolution, but I have always wondered what the evolution of "V" was. Why didn't "V" stay a "V" and our "V" be something new like "U"?

Delvo
2007-Mar-22, 04:12 PM
The "V" was originally like "U" when placed where it had to be a vowel and a "W" when placed where it had to be a consonant. There was just one letter because it's possible to conceive of those sounds as the same thing and they apparently did. The use of it as a consonant later came to sound like our modern "V", which could no longer be thought of as the same thing as the vowel, so then it became appropriate to have two separate letters. "W" (called "double-V" in Spanish) came along centuries later, literally by the doubling of either "U" or "V" to represent a third sound related to the other two but not the same as either... although different languages don't agree on which ones get which sounds, the need for three letters to show three sounds is the same. (In German, "W" is like our "V", and "V" is usually like our "F", for example, but either way, they're two different sounds.)

"C" and "G" have a similar history.

When and how did the Greeks come up with their lowercases? They're always given along with the capitals when the alphabet is taught, but the Romans would have known about them if they were there all along. (Maybe they knew and just ignored?) And they also usually have no resemblance to the capitals, so derivation is hard to picture...

Nicolas
2007-Mar-22, 04:22 PM
maybe they tried to make their arguments stronger by PUTTING THEM IN ALL CAPS !!!1!!11!ONE!

;)

It's a good question though, Greek has (and I assume had) lower case letters, but Roman didn't.

NEOWatcher
2007-Mar-22, 04:50 PM
maybe they tried to make their arguments stronger by PUTTING THEM IN ALL CAPS !!!1!!11!ONE!

OOH, light bulb just blinked... I think I see a connection with one of our posters from the same country. :lol:

01101001
2007-Mar-22, 04:53 PM
How hard is it to invent spaces between words? I mean really? After all they're already there on the page before you start writing.

It'sapparentlyhard, in that plenty of writing systems fail to do it. I think it's a figure-ground (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure-ground) issue. The blank page's possibly being already filled with (or containing one giant) interword separation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interword_separation) punctuation is far from an obvious thing.

To the casual observer, written words are composed of marks on a 2D surface. That there are also non-marks on that surface, that there is negative space (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_space) that is equally important to the words' identities and existence, takes keen observation and somewhat deep thought.

I enjoyed the tale from interword separation (Interword_separation#Rediscovery_of_spaces_in_Lat in):


The Irish appear to have been the first to consistently use blank spaces to delimit word boundaries in the Latin alphabet, sometime between 600 AD and 800 AD. As Irish is from a different branch of the Indo-European language family than Latin, the Irish would have had much more difficulty reading Latin than people with, for example, Spanish or Italian (which descended from Latin and are still quite close to it) as their first language. Thus they would have had greater incentive to make reading Latin easier.

(Hmm, someone had to write the book: Saenger, Paul Spaces between Words. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4016-X.)

01101001
2007-Mar-22, 04:57 PM
When and how did the Greeks come up with their lowercases?

Wikipedia: Minuscule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minuscule):


Similar developments have taken place in other alphabets. The minuscule script for the Greek alphabet has its origins in the seventh century [...]

Wikipedia: History of the Latin alphabet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latin_alphabet), not very precisely:


The lower case (minuscule) letters developed in the Middle Ages from New Roman Cursive writing, first as the uncial script, and later as minuscule script.

Wikipedia: Calligraphy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calligraphy):


Western calligraphy is the calligraphy of the Latin writing system, and to a lesser degree the Greek and Cyrillic writing systems. Early alphabets had evolved by about 3000 BC. From the Etruscan alphabet evolved the Latin alphabet. Capital letters (majuscules) emerged first, followed by the invention of lower case letters (minuscules) in the Carolingian period (Mediavilla 1996).

Carolingian: AD 780 to 900

Larry Jacks
2007-Mar-22, 06:37 PM
According to some sources, such as this one (http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture20b.html), lower case letters in the Latin alphabet were developed and standardized by (or for) Charlemagne.

The most durable and significant of all Charlemagne's efforts was the revival of learning in his kingdom. This was especially so among the clergy, many of whom were barely literate. On the whole, the monks were not much better educated. Even those monks who spent their days copying manuscripts could barely read or understand them. The manuscripts from the 7th and 8th centuries were confusing. They were all written in uppercase letters and without punctuation. There were many errors made in copying and handwriting was poor. There were, however, a few educated monks as well as the beginnings of a few great libraries. But Charlemagne could not find one good copy of the Bible, nor a complete text of the Benedictine Rule. He had to send to Rome for them. Above all, Charlemagne wanted unity in the Frankish Church, a Church wholly under his supervision. Charlemagne, although illiterate as a youth, was devoted to new ideas and to learning. He studied Latin, Greek, rhetoric, logic and astronomy. He wanted to meet an educated man -- he was very lucky. He was in northern Italy when he met the Anglo-Saxon scholar, Alcuin.

Alcuin (c.735-804) lived in York where there was a library which contained a vast collection of manuscripts. Charlemagne persuaded Alcuin to come to Aachen in order to design a curriculum for the palace school. Alcuin devised a course of study that was intended to train the clergy and the monks. Here we find the origins of the seven liberal arts: the trivium comprised grammar (how to write), rhetoric (how to speak) and logic (how to think) while the quadrivium was made up of the mathematical arts, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music. All of this meant a classical and literary education. Students read Homer, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Juvenal, Plato and Cicero.

By the 9th century, most monasteries had writing rooms or scriptoria. It was here that manuscripts were copied. The texts were studied with care. It was no longer merely a matter of copying texts. It was now first necessary to correct any mistakes which had been made over years of copying. Copying was indeed difficult: lighting was poor, the monk's hands were cramped by cold weather and there was no standard scholarly language. What Charlemagne did was institute a standard writing style. Remember, previous texts were all uppercase, without punctuation and there was no separation between words. The letters of the new script, called the Carolingian minuscule, were written in upper and lower case, with punctuation and words were separated. It should be obvious that this new script was much easier to read, in fact, it is the script we use today. Charlemagne also standardized medieval Latin. After all, much had changed in the Latin language over the past 1000 years. New words, phrases, and idioms had appeared over the centuries in these now had to be incorporated into the language. So what Charlemagne did was take account of all these changes and include them in a new scholarly language which we know as medieval Latin.

Disinfo Agent
2007-Mar-22, 07:03 PM
Basically, it's often said (and I agree) that strings of lowercase letters are easier to read than strings of uppercase letters. What I wonder is, why then did the Romans use all caps?The lowercase letters we now use were essentially a medieval creation, usually traced back to the Carolingian period (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolingian_minuscule).

It seems the Greek alphabet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_alphabet#History) also developed lowercase letters only in the medieval period.


But I could go a bit further and say, people say the reason that lowercase letters are easier to read is because of the ascenders and descenders (meaning, uppercase letters are all of the same height, but with lowercase letters, the "p" goes under the baseline whereas the "t" goes higher up). So why, then, did the Romans use letters without ascenders and descenders?I always thought the advantage of lowercase type was that it was easier to write, not read...


Yeah, that's something that occurred to me. But I think the Romans also wrote on parchment and vellum as well.The Romans used a special script (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_cursive) for informal writing.

Gillianren
2007-Mar-22, 08:08 PM
I haven't noticed that ! :think:

That is informative Gillianren. :D

Thanks!

You're quite welcome. I aim to inform wherever possible, and it's not often possible for me around here, being the English major that I am. I can't help with physics and engineering and optics, oh my, so I content myself with just kind of knowing stuff and correcting people's spelling and grammar when I feel it's necessary.

01101001
2007-Mar-22, 08:18 PM
I always thought the advantage of lowercase type was that it was easier to write, not read...

I hand-write all caps because it's my achitect style. I toss out reabability and writability and go with esthetics. Charles Shulz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Schulz) was my lettering hero.

I feel mixed case writing is easier to read than uppercase only. I've long heard it said. I think research backs it up. Let's see...

Readability of websites... (http://hubel.sfasu.edu/research/AHNCUR.html)


Several word style factors (letter case, bold, italicized, etc.) may also affect readability. For example, text displayed in mixed upper and lower case letters is faster and easier to read (Tinker, 1963). This increase in speed is due to a person's tendency to recognize the shape of the word as opposed to each individual letter in a word. When text is in all upper case letters, it takes away the characteristic shape of words. The reader is forced to identify the individual letters of each word, which slows the reader down.

mike alexander
2007-Mar-22, 08:22 PM
I never thought about it until right now, but could 'uppercase' and 'lowercase' be printer's terms? As in keeping the capital letters in the upper case of type sitting by the printing press?

Disinfo Agent
2007-Mar-22, 08:25 PM
Readability of websites... (http://hubel.sfasu.edu/research/AHNCUR.html)


Several word style factors (letter case, bold, italicized, etc.) may also affect readability. For example, text displayed in mixed upper and lower case letters is faster and easier to read (Tinker, 1963). This increase in speed is due to a person's tendency to recognize the shape of the word as opposed to each individual letter in a word. When text is in all upper case letters, it takes away the characteristic shape of words. The reader is forced to identify the individual letters of each word, which slows the reader down.I bet they didn't control for the fact that most people are already more used to reading in mixed case.

lpgeorge123
2007-Mar-22, 08:25 PM
people say the reason that lowercase letters are easier to read is because of the ascenders and descenders (meaning, uppercase letters are all of the same height, but with lowercase letters, the "p" goes under the baseline whereas the "t" goes higher up)

I write in all uppercase letters. The capital letters are just larger than the rest of the letters. I can take my time and make sure every letter is perfectly formed and defined, and there are still people who find it hard to read. I always figured that was because they weren't use to seeing things written that way. To my eyes, this is easier to read. All the letters are the same size and I don't use and ascenders or descenders. The letters end up being more square-like (as long as I don't write too quickly, in which case everything becomes a scribble).

It reminds me of cursive writing. I don't write that way very often, so when I do see something written in cursive I have to look at it carefully. I can read it, just not as quickly.

On a side note, if there is one thing I despise about the internet, it's mispelling words on purpose. Seeing someone write "ur" instead of "your" makes me cringe, and people who write "teh" on purpose all the time make me never want to talk to them again. :wall: I've seen things written this way on paper, and those are the moments where I want to cry.

Van Rijn
2007-Mar-22, 08:32 PM
How hard is it to invent spaces between words? I mean really? After all they're already there on the page before you start writing.

I think that's one of those ideas that is only obvious after the fact. Afterallyoudon'tputspacesbetweenwordswhenyouspeak. Well. unless. you're. William. Shatner.

HenrikOlsen
2007-Mar-22, 10:04 PM
To my eyes, this is easier to read. All the letters are the same size and I don't use and ascenders or descenders. The letters end up being more square-like (as long as I don't write too quickly, in which case everything becomes a scribble).
This is exactly the reason why it's slower to read all caps, or the "caps and small caps" you described, once you get over the "reading one letter at a time" stage of reading and get into whole words as the unit of recognition.

With ascenders and descenders, common words can be distinguished by their outlines which makes them much faster to recognize than if you have to separate them by the fiddly patterns of lines within them.

With caps words are all rectangular blobs until you focus on the lines within them which force you to go back to second grade and read the words a letter at a time.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but have you been tested for dyslexia?
That is the one situation I can think of where allcaps might be easier to read than mixed case, exactly because it promotes reading individual letters.

lpgeorge123
2007-Mar-22, 11:21 PM
This is exactly the reason why it's slower to read all caps, or the "caps and small caps" you described, once you get over the "reading one letter at a time" stage of reading and get into whole words as the unit of recognition.

With ascenders and descenders, common words can be distinguished by their outlines which makes them much faster to recognize than if you have to separate them by the fiddly patterns of lines within them.

With caps words are all rectangular blobs until you focus on the lines within them which force you to go back to second grade and read the words a letter at a time.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but have you been tested for dyslexia?
That is the one situation I can think of where allcaps might be easier to read than mixed case, exactly because it promotes reading individual letters.

No offense taken. Maybe I find reading the block letters easier since I'm use to reading my own handwriting. I can read lowercase letters just fine. I guess I should have pointed out that I was talking about handwriting. When it comes to typed and printed stuff, I think lowercase is easier to read, but when it comes to reading hand written things, I prefer my small caps (I like that way of describing it :) ).

Trebuchet
2007-Mar-22, 11:22 PM
I write in all uppercase letters. The capital letters are just larger than the rest of the letters. I can take my time and make sure every letter is perfectly formed and defined, and there are still people who find it hard to read. I always figured that was because they weren't use to seeing things written that way. To my eyes, this is easier to read. All the letters are the same size and I don't use and ascenders or descenders. The letters end up being more square-like (as long as I don't write too quickly, in which case everything becomes a scribble).

It reminds me of cursive writing. I don't write that way very often, so when I do see something written in cursive I have to look at it carefully. I can read it, just not as quickly.

On a side note, if there is one thing I despise about the internet, it's mispelling words on purpose. Seeing someone write "ur" instead of "your" makes me cringe, and people who write "teh" on purpose all the time make me never want to talk to them again. :wall: I've seen things written this way on paper, and those are the moments where I want to cry.

I write that way as well, although I sometimes tend to mix that with upper/lower case in the same sentence! I've gotten to the point where I'm almost entirely unable to write cursive. Even signing my name legibly is very difficult.

I think the bad spelling thing is more the fault of text messaging on cell phones than of the internet, although it has certainly spread there among the young. I tend to typo "teh" pretty often, unfortunately.

nauthiz
2007-Mar-22, 11:27 PM
No offense taken. Maybe I find reading the block letters easier since I'm use to reading my own handwriting. I can read lowercase letters just fine. I guess I should have pointed out that I was talking about handwriting. When it comes to typed and printed stuff, I think lowercase is easier to read, but when it comes to reading hand written things, I prefer my small caps (I like that way of describing it :) ).

I have the same thing going on. With handwritten text, lowercase letters are often very non-uniform or poorly differentiated from each other. In my own handwriting, it can often be hard to tell whether a particular glyph is meant to be a 'g', a 'q', or a 'y'.

01101001
2007-Mar-22, 11:32 PM
I never thought about it until right now, but could 'uppercase' and 'lowercase' be printer's terms? As in keeping the capital letters in the upper case of type sitting by the printing press?

Bingo.

Wikipedia: Capital letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_letters)


Capital letters (also simply called capitals or caps) are also known as upper case; manual typesetters kept them in the upper drawers of a desk, keeping the more frequently used minuscule letters on the lower shelf. This practice may date back to Johann Gutenberg.

Gillianren
2007-Mar-22, 11:43 PM
I write that way as well, although I sometimes tend to mix that with upper/lower case in the same sentence! I've gotten to the point where I'm almost entirely unable to write cursive. Even signing my name legibly is very difficult.

I don't write in cursive, even for my signature. Haven't for years unless directly ordered to by a teacher--and very few of my teachers cared.


I think the bad spelling thing is more the fault of text messaging on cell phones than of the internet, although it has certainly spread there among the young. I tend to typo "teh" pretty often, unfortunately.

Me, too; it's just that I'm more aware of when I do it than most people, so I correct myself pretty quickly. It slows my typing, but I never have to take the time to run spellcheck!

lpgeorge123
2007-Mar-22, 11:55 PM
I write that way as well, although I sometimes tend to mix that with upper/lower case in the same sentence! I've gotten to the point where I'm almost entirely unable to write cursive. Even signing my name legibly is very difficult.

I think the bad spelling thing is more the fault of text messaging on cell phones than of the internet, although it has certainly spread there among the young. I tend to typo "teh" pretty often, unfortunately.

I see the mixed writing quite a bit. I also tend to write my e's lower case. I think that's because of my math classes. For awhile I was using e (the math symbol) in equations quite a bit and now it's slipped into my handwriting. My g's and f's sometimes appear lowercase too, though that's more on purpose. I started getting points docked on quizzes when I put a g down for the units, and the grader though I meant giga instead of grams.

I can forgive "teh" when it's an honest typo. I just hate seeing entire paragraphs where it's written like that.

Nicolas
2007-Mar-22, 11:57 PM
OOH, light bulb just blinked... I think I see a connection with one of our posters from the same country. :lol:

I'm not Italian. ;)

HenrikOlsen
2007-Mar-23, 01:39 AM
I started getting points docked on quizzes when I put a g down for the units, and the grader though I meant giga instead of grams.
Interesting.
It wasn't until I started reading posts here I saw L for liter instead of l, and I must admit I go terribly confused by it, especially because the poster had made an error in his math so he was off by a factor 1000, so I though it was a special notation for m3:)
And now you're telling me that people use G for gram as well?
That's another one I've never seen before.

What's next, "b" for bytes and "m" for mega?

cjl
2007-Mar-23, 01:56 AM
I've never seen G for grams - I've always seen g, and similarly, G is always giga (not grams).

Whirlpool
2007-Mar-23, 02:13 AM
On a side note, if there is one thing I despise about the internet, it's mispelling words on purpose. Seeing someone write "ur" instead of "your" makes me cringe, and people who write "teh" on purpose all the time make me never want to talk to them again. :wall: I've seen things written this way on paper, and those are the moments where I want to cry.


Well, you can correct them if you want to.

;)

lpgeorge123
2007-Mar-23, 03:40 AM
I've never seen G for grams - I've always seen g, and similarly, G is always giga (not grams).

This is true. It's my all uppercase handwriting that caused the confusion. I wrote a G, which I meant as a g. I would write G if I meant a G (look at the sizes between the two). I knew what I meant, but the grader did not. I leared rather quickly to start using lower and uppercase letters in math and science classes, haha.

01101001
2007-Mar-23, 05:34 AM
I wrote a G, which I meant as a g.

You need the sort of G I used here, which is upper or lowercase depending on which way is up:

http://www.01101001.com/images/george_t.gif (http://www.01101001.com/ambigrams)

Jeff Root
2007-Mar-23, 08:59 PM
if you'll note, almost all capital letters are nothing but
straight lines, whereas lower case letters are primarily curves.
I'm not sure exactly which letters were in the Roman alphabet
2000 years ago, but I count 9 or 10 caps with curves, leaving
about 14 with only straight lines:

BCDGOPQRSU
AEFHIKLMNTVXYZ



You try carving lots of curved lines on stones; it may be faster
to read, but it's certainly slower to carve!
Some of the most beautiful letterforms I've ever seen were
Latin carved in stone, but I don't know when they date from.
The design of Times Roman was based on those letterforms, but
falls well short of duplicating them.

I hafta think that carving in stone was a vanishingly small
fraction of all alphabetic inscription at the height of Roman
monument building, even as it is now.

What materials were actually used for written records between,
say, 500 BC and 500 AD? What material was writ on, what were
the marks made of, and what tool was used to make them?

When was the transition between, say, the letter 'B' made with
straight lines only and 'B' made with curves? Did a change in
writing tools drive that change?

The lower-case Greek alphabet is so esthetically appealing that
it seems a pity the ancient Greeks never had it.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2007-Mar-23, 09:07 PM
I hand-write all caps because it's my achitect style.
Me, too. Since seventh grade, I think. My dad was an architect.



I toss out reabability and writability and go with esthetics.
Yeah, I guess. I've been told my printing looks like it was
done with a typewriter. It isn't nearly as precise now as it
was twenty or thirty years ago. I looked at something from
back then and I can't believe it. Clearly OCD-inspired.



Charles Shulz was my lettering hero.
My mom worked in the same building as Charles Shulz and knew
several of the people on whom Peanuts characters were based.
By coincidence, 55 years later, my parents now live in the same
apartment co-operative as The Little Red-Haired Girl.

-- Jeff. in Minneapolis

Doodler
2007-Mar-23, 09:09 PM
I hand-write all caps because it's my achitect style. I toss out reabability and writability and go with esthetics. Charles Shulz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Schulz) was my lettering hero.

I feel mixed case writing is easier to read than uppercase only. I've long heard it said. I think research backs it up. Let's see...

Readability of websites... (http://hubel.sfasu.edu/research/AHNCUR.html)

Speaking as one who occassionally suffers the wrathe of draft lettering, upper case wins in terms of ease of reading and writing. Lowercase just puts more words on a page.

Jeff Root
2007-Mar-23, 09:12 PM
Re: Spaces between words. Note that words existed long before
the first glyphs meant to represent those words, and the glyphs
existed long before alphabetic characters were used to represent
phonetic expression of the words. The glyphs were put together
side-by-side, but alphabetic representations of those glyphs
could just as naturally and easily have been separated by spaces
from the get-go as not.

I don't recall seeing samples of ancient (or modern) text in
any language that uses an alphabet but doesn't use spaces
between words. What languages fit that description?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2007-Mar-23, 09:30 PM
I don't recall seeing samples of ancient (or modern) text in
any language that uses an alphabet but doesn't use spaces
between words. What languages fit that description?Look at any Roman inscription.

HenrikOlsen
2007-Mar-23, 09:40 PM
I don't recall seeing samples of ancient (or modern) text in
any language that uses an alphabet but doesn't use spaces
between words. What languages fit that description?

See here (http://www.uh.edu/engines/rosettacasting.jpg) for two examples in one go:)

01101001
2007-Mar-24, 06:39 AM
I don't recall seeing samples of ancient (or modern) text in any language that uses an alphabet but doesn't use spaces
between words. What languages fit that description?

From the samples, which I can't vouch for, a few are:

Avestan (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/avestan.htm)
Etruscan (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/etruscan.htm) (dots for separation?)
Hungarian runes (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/hungarian_runes.htm)
Ogham (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/ogham.htm) (hard to tell)
Dhives Akuru (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/dhivesakuru.htm)
Sabaean (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/sabaean.htm)
Urdu (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/urdu.htm)

Not all alphabets listed provided sample text, so I couldn't check them.

When I first wrote of non-separator-demanding languages, I was thinking of my experiences with Asian ones, Chinese (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/chinese.htm) (ideograms), Japanese (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese.htm) (ideograms and syllabic alphabet), maybe Thai (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/thai.htm) (syllabic alphabet).

Omniglot (http://www.omniglot.com/) is a fun site for sampling writing systems and languages of the world.

mugaliens
2007-Mar-24, 09:56 AM
I have a simple question, and I hope some of the smart people who inhabit this board and have an interest in history will have answers.

Basically, it's often said (and I agree) that strings of lowercase letters are easier to read than strings of uppercase letters.

It's only easier because that's what we're used to reading. If we were brought up on all-caps, then we'd say, "What the...?" if we saw this sentence.

The first time I saw print upside down, I couldn't read it for squat.

But my son liked me to read to him on the floor, with him looking at everything right-side up, and me looking at everything upside down.

Now, reading upside down is a piece of cake, a trick I show others on occasion to demonstrate how flexible the human brain is so long as people keep an open mind, don't give in to frustrations, and don't quit.

sarongsong
2007-May-04, 08:35 AM
...why, then, did the Romans use letters without ascenders and descenders?A bit more on the subject:
...Our capital letters are identical with the forms used in monumental inscriptions, except that U is now used instead of V, and J [and] W have been added in the same style. Temporary notes were taken on erasable wax tablets with a stylus. Published books were written on papyrus with India ink...The writing evolved from capital letters through letters that were quicker to form with a pen, eventually leading to letters that gave rise to our lower case...Connected handwriting is a very late development... Latin For Mountain Men (http://www.du.edu/~etuttle/classics/latin/latin6.htm)

Maksutov
2007-May-04, 09:59 AM
Originally Posted by 01101001 http://www.bautforum.com/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?p=954204#post954204)
I hand-write all caps because it's my achitect style.
Same here due to drafting classes. One wonders what the handwriting on B/Ps of some CAD-only designers would look like.

:think:

mugaliens
2007-May-04, 08:35 PM
I thought we covered this a year or two back?

It's because it's easiest to read whatever your eyes (brain, actually) are used to reading.

mugaliens
2007-May-04, 08:36 PM
Hmmm... Seems we covered this just back in March...

Must have my eyes checked... Perhaps my brain...

LurchGS
2007-May-04, 08:58 PM
I have company - or, some of you do.

1) I write in block letters
2) I don't think I CAN write in cursive any more. Even my signature is ... well, a couple sweeping lines.
3) I don't find all caps harder to read than upper/lower - but then, I *am* dyslexic. On the other hand, even all caps writing will have a pattern - it's just internal, not external...

I don't object to abbreviations in conversational text - but then, as a telecommunicator, you are taught to do that. Just be consistent (TOW should always be Taking On Water or Tenacious Old Women - or my favorite, applied to vehicles: ROPDFDGB - Roll Over Play Dead Fall Down Go Boom)

I object, however, to that kind of hogwash in formal and semi-formal commuications. Argumets are semi-formal at worst, or pure formal. You start arguing with me while using TKX, UR, KMA - the argument will be over quickly.

mugaliens
2007-May-05, 01:10 PM
What materials were actually used for written records between,
say, 500 BC and 500 AD? What material was writ on, what were
the marks made of, and what tool was used to make them?

Papyrus, leather (used with ink), slates, and clay tablets (marked with a stylus), tree bark, and pretty much anything reasonably flat on which someone could make a lasting mark with either ink or some other tool. For example, slates were marked on with either soapstone or chalk.


When was the transition between, say, the letter 'B' made with
straight lines only and 'B' made with curves? Did a change in
writing tools drive that change?

Curvy lines are faster. I suspect it came about as a matter of expediency.

LurchGS
2007-May-06, 07:40 AM
I don't write in cursive, even for my signature. Haven't for years unless directly ordered to by a teacher--and very few of my teachers cared.

THis just reminded me of an recurring argument I have with many institutions (financial, in particular)

Here, there, and everywhere, you see lines marked "Signature". My problem is, most of these people have no clue that 'signature' != 'name'. A signature can be any symbol or sequence of symbols that an individual consistently uses to identify himself in writing.

My signature, as it happens, is my first name. sorta. Anyway, it started out that way - now it's a couple loopy things with a couple squiggles thrown in for the heck of it.

I can NOT convince these people that, by making me write my entire name out, they are actually opening themselves up to loss - because I can prove in court that whatever they have on their paper is not my signature.

And it doesn't look like my normal way of writing, too. I've had the local handwriting expert (don't ask) state that the best he could do was "not exclude [me] as the individual who [wrote that]"

Ok, I'm done ranting.

For now.