Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Old artwork and engravings, 1857.

I haven't done a post like this on this blog for a long time. I used to always be digging around in old journals on Google Books and whatnot, but not so much these days. Anyway, I was looking for information relating to something a few days ago and I came across this journal;

https://books.google.co.uk - The art journal London, Volume 3. 1857.

It contained lots of interesting, and quite beautiful, artwork, which I thought was worth sharing.

Firstly we have the cover.

(click to enlarge)

I'll now go through some of the others I liked.

(Approach to the Greek court)

(Beatrici Cenci)



(Cupid and Psyche)

(The door of Medmenham Abbey)

I think the text above the entrance in that last one translates as "do whatever you want". This would be quite fitting as Medmenham Abbey was said to be the home of the famous Hellfire Club.



(A group of decorated Worchester enamels)

(An engraving of a bust of
Her Majesty Queen Victoria)

(Love Pursuing the Soul)

(Masks of Thames and Isis)

(A presentation claret jug)

(Psyche borne by Zephyrus)


(Roman scroll and figure
carved ornamentation)


(The Beauty of Albano)

(The Countess Victoria Gouramma of Coorg)

(The disgrace of Cardinal Wolsey)

Note Henry VIII, with his back to camera, in classic theatrical stance.

(The Fruit Gatherer)

(The Hunter)

(The Huntress)

(The Maid of Saragossa)

(The Sea Cave)

(The Syrens)

Brilliant images.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Losing one eye..

A quick, slightly dull update regarding my phonetic alphabet.

It occurred to me that the [i] sound, as in the word eye, is really just a combination of an [a] and an [ee] sound. It starts with the [a] then transitions, and ends with the [ee].

(..that's the é with an accent from my alphabet,
which I'm using as a stand-in for the [ee] sound)

I really don't know how I missed that one. It means I can remove the capitalised [i] sound from my list of letters though. So now we just have nine vowels.

Leaving it all looking something like this..

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Ch and J ...and m-m-more mothers

Just a quick post making a few notes in reference to the consonants. It follows on from the letter [S] post I did not too long ago;

First up, like with the [S] and the [Z] sounds of that last article, it occurred to me that [J] and [Ch] are quite similar. Just as the [S] sound is a [Z] with a push of air so too is the [Ch] sound a [J] with a push of air. (Mouthing these sounds out yourself and noticing the positions of the tongue and the mouth will help if this all seems a little strange).

So this pair can also be added to our list of "push" sounds.
Of course, when developing my stripped back phonetic alphabet I'd removed the [J] altogether. After realising it was essentially a combination of a [T] and a [Y] - that's a [Y] as in the word yeah. So the name John for example, would be rendered Tyohn. Which looks very bizarre, but it essentially gives the same sound. People will argue, no doubt correctly, that there are slight, but important and noticeable differences. Making this a clumsy substitution. However, the aim is to strip things back to represent the basic shapes in the mouth used to make the consonants. Not to split these simple shapes into an infinity of minor variations.

Anyhow, given [J] is now gone [Ch] would have to be written Tyh - the [H] representing the push of air. Quite odd looking xD

..and more mother words

The second thing I want to make note of are some of the eastern words for mother.

Anyone familiar with this blog will be aware of the links between the letter [M] and motherhood. Not only with various words such as mother, maiden, matron, matre, mademoiselle, mamma, mummy ..the list goes on. But also words associated with eating, which perhaps have their origins in breastfeeding. Mammary, milk, mouth. Along with onomatopoeic words such as yummy, mmm, nom, chomp and so forth.

Anyway, I finally got round to checking the words for mother in some of the eastern languages (in European languages the [M] sound for mother seems almost universal).

The fruits were many.

Firstly we have plenty of [M] words in the Indian languages. Courtesy of this very useful Quora page.

Then in Chinese we have; 

We also find the [M] in the Korean word for mother;

The only major outlier I've came across so far is Japan. Apparently the word for mother there is the very cutesy haha. ..typical Japan with their cool emojis and text speak :p Though even there the word for daughter has the double [M] sound.

Obviously it goes without saying that I'm quite far out of my depth with all these languages. I'm basically relying on Google Translate and YouTube videos. Still however, it does very much seem like this [M] / mother association is quite common across much of the world.

Finally, as a consequence of all this I was also wondering about the word more. Does that have similar roots? After all, it too is a word children tend to learn very early. When they want more bottle, etc. "More, more, more.."

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Did Roman Numerals Develop After The Advent Of The Printing Press?

People often ask; "If the Romans were so smart, then why did they have such a terrible number system?" What with Roman numerals being so impractical, especially for Mathematics.

(Standard Roman numerals.)

According to the conventional history Roman numerals originated in ancient Rome, over two thousands years ago. In turn developing from the earlier Etruscan number system. Conversely the printing press is said to have been invented much later, in the fifteenth century. Though printing in general has much earlier origins, going back far deeper in history. The earliest surviving examples of woodblock printing from China said to date from circa 200 AD.

In this article I'm going to suggest that Roman numerals in fact came after the advent of printing. If not after the advent of the printing press itself.

So what's the logic behind this thinking?

When block printing began printers would naturally only have blocks for the letters of the alphabet. If they wanted to print a number they would then need to make separate blocks for the number symbols. However, this would be costly and time consuming. Especially as numbers rarely figured in most printed texts anyway.

So they just used letters. As they already had an abundance of these at their disposal. Hence why Roman numerals are indeed all letter symbols.

One to ten - or I to X if you prefer - is simply a tally system. This is commonly used when counting anyway. So it was a natural way to represent numbers in the absence of the numerical symbols. The V is simply a crossing off - as we normally do when we reach five when we're making tally marks. Likewise with the X.

(tally marks)

The X is simply two V's. A right-way-round V on top of an upside down one. So it makes sense that V is half the value of X.

Other letters were then used to stand for the bigger numbers where this tallying became impractical. For example, C for century and M for mille (a thousand).

So Roman numerals were just used for printing. As a labour and cost saving alternative. They were never used by the Romans, or any other culture, as the primary number system. Their presence on other items and artefacts, such as clocks and buildings, then simply being a product of printed books making them fashionable.

If we ignore the conventional history this explanation makes perfect sense. Though that's quite a brave thing to do. As will be familiar to anyone that has read other articles on this blog my general view is that the conventional timeline is somewhat confused, and that "ancient" Rome effectively blends into medieval history. With much of what we think of as ancient Rome (and ancient Greece) existing only in textbooks from the medieval period onward. Whatever the true history though this idea that Roman numerals are a product of block printing is an interesting little theory.

(P. S. - you may have noticed I avoided giving an explanation for the meanings of the L and the D symbols. I have some ideas, but haven't quite fleshed them out just yet ..or you could perhaps say I don't really have a good enough explanation yet. So have cheated a little bit :) Either way I may come back with another article that goes into these aspects in more detail.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Letter "S" - Another "Push" Consonant

This is just a quick one to make note of something I hadn't previously noted. Namely that the letters [S] and [Z] seem to be related in the same way that the other "push" consonants are related. With an [S] essentially being a [Z] with a push of air.

(I'm using an old image as I'm too lazy
to knock up a new one)

I missed this correlation as I quickly dismissed the letter [Z] at the start of all this, what with it being so under used in comparison to [S], and relatively easy to get rid of.

With the above pairs I got rid of the symbol with the push. So [P] went and I kept [B] for example. Following that logic I would also need to get rid of the [S] and leave the [Z]. However, the [S] symbol looks so snake-like and fits it's purpose so well that I'm definitely not going to lose it. So the [Z] remains gone.

It has made me consider if I've made the right call on the other symbols though. Is the [V] symbol more fitting than the [F]? Is the [G] symbol better than the [K]? Maybe something worth some further thought. The [V] symbol does look a little too similar to the [U] after all.

The Letter "B"

One pair where I'm fairly sure I have the right symbol though is the [B].

It looks a little bit like the female body (at least the side view anyway - belly and breasts), and seems fittingly related to childbirth. Just as the letter [M] seems to be.

Birth, belly, breast, bust, bosom, born, baby. Words relating to bursting forth. Of course, the mechanics of how we make the sound with the mouth also suggest this. As we purse the lips together and pop them out. We also have many rounded words. Like ball, balloon, bulge.

So the [B] symbol seems very apt.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Oink - A Phonetic Alphabet: The Full Alphabet

I've knocked up a little graphic showing the full alphabet as it stands.

(click to enlarge)

I've ended up with 10 vowels and 13 consonants. Quite far removed from the original aim, which was to strip things back to seven sacred vowels with twelve constellation consonants.

Hopefully I can start using this now to make some, no doubt illegible, texts :)

Oink: A Phonetic Alphabet. Vowels Given Notation

This is a little short one. I've recently been re-evaluating all the phonetic alphabet posts. I think it's time I started to nail it down into some sort of usable form. To start really trialling and playing around with it. So I've finally affixed some symbols to the various vowel sounds.

You may recall that we noted how the ten vowel sounds I'd identified, common to the English language, seemed to correlate rather succinctly with the five vowels in the English alphabet - if you took into consideration both their upper and lower case pronunciations.

I knocked up this little graphic at the time.

Anyhow, I've decided to stick with this general theme. Keeping the lower case letters as they are, and then representing the upper case sounds with the same letter, only this time accented.

So the above graphic now looks like this.

I've decided to use the forward-leaning acute accent to make the distinction just as these are commonly available in other alphabets, and therefore readily available on keyboards. As opposed to creating completely new symbols say. Or choosing more obscure ones.

I've also decided that I'm going to use the following accented [o] symbol for the "th" consonant sound.

Ø, ø
(upper and lower).

Again, as it can be more commonly found on keyboards, as opposed to the thorn symbol I was using. Plus it's not too dissimilar in look to the thorn symbol. So it's a nice substitute.

I'll do another post with the graphic for the consonants next.


Also it's worth mentioning that for elongated sounds I've decided to just double up the vowels. In an earlier post we mentioned the word first. How we tend not to pronounce the [r] sound as we would a normal [r]. With it instead acting as a marker that the [i] sound (actually more of an "e as in egg" sound really) is lengthened. Without the [r] it would just look like fist though (or fest rather). However, fest becomes "ferst" by lengthening the vowel - f-errrr-st. If you get the drift.

Again, I've had to use the "err" sound with the [r] to illustrate this to people reading who are used to standard English spelling, but really that "err" sound. A sound we often make during speech when we stutter or pause, or can't find the right words. Is actually just a single long vowel sound if you mouth it out.

So for words like first I'll just be using two [e]'s together. Feest. Of course, it looks like it would sound like the word feast with our normal vowel conventions. Like as in the word speed in the above graphic. However, as per the graphic, in my phonetic alphabet that would now be represented by an [é] symbol. So I'll be spelling "feast" as fést.

It's all very confusing :)

I think this doubling up though makes more sense as it's a natural thing to do when illustrating elongated, more sustained sounds. For instance, when we "shush" people at the cinema (not that I would ever do that!), we often spell that out for dramatic effect as something like "Ssssshhhh!". The more S's the more emphasis and exaggeration. Or like when someone screams, "Aaaaaaaahhh!".

We naturally do this when writing to illustrate these vocal exclamations, even though they're not proper words in the conventional sense. It just makes intuitive sense, as that's how they actually sound. An "Aaaaaaaaaahhh!" really is just someone saying an [a] for a really long time.

So I'm going to try to follow that logic.