Language & linguistics news from around the world • Updated daily • Relevant stories, selected by humans (not computers)

Share this site!

Category: Writing/Literacy

  • Apr 23, 2012
  • 05:14 PM

Small Effort, Better Maltese! A new book by Charles Saliba

Gozo News
Gozitan author, Charles Daniel Saliba has just launched his latest book on the Maltese language. This one, featuring the latest developments in Maltese orthography, is aimed at self-learners who want to bring their knowledge up to date and to improve their grammar and spelling.
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 05:50 PM

Pidgin Language Book Launched In Abuja

Catherine Agbo / Leadership Newspapers
“It is not as easy as it seems because we speak it every day and we assume that it is very easy to write pidgin but it’s just like in English language where you have people who can speak the language very fluently, grammatically perfect but when it comes to writing it is a bit difficult and its same with what is now known as Nigerian Pidgin,” he said.
  • Apr 18, 2012
  • 10:59 AM

Reading time at the zoo: the baboons that excel at English

Cordis News
The researchers, based at the Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive (LPC) de l'Universite d'Aix-Marseille have shown that a group of baboons has successfully learned to discriminate real English words from pseudo words just by looking at their written form.
  • Apr 12, 2012
  • 07:28 PM

Pangasinan Day to feature local orthography

April Montes / Philippine Information Agency
The orthography aims to revive Pangasinan’s culture and language so that the roots and identity of Pangasinenses will be preserved and enhanced. “It is an added cap to the province’s culture as the dialect will now have a roadmap as far as proper usage of words and correct spelling is concerned,” cited provincial administrator Rafael Baraan.
  • Apr 06, 2012
  • 12:25 PM

Braille translator at work in Brookings

Charis Ubben / Brookings Register
Cobb, born in Sioux Falls and raised in California, has been working in Braille for about seven years. He completed 20 lessons of self-paced coursework to receive his certification and apprenticed to a Braille transcription company for two years. Cobb said Braille transcription isn't taught in traditional schools, and in 2010 the U.S. had a shortage of about 1,000 transcribers.
  • Apr 06, 2012
  • 12:02 AM

Tackling dyslexia before kids learn to read

For children with dyslexia, the trouble begins even before they start reading and for reasons that don't necessarily reflect other language skills. This study for the first time reveals a causal connection between early problems with visual attention and a later diagnosis of dyslexia.
  • Apr 05, 2012
  • 12:14 AM

Death To The Space Bar (video)

John Herrman / BuzzFeed
"You could type a whole sentence without using a space," SwiftKey's Joe Braidwood told me. "You could write an entire essay, though you might get every word you want. Technically you could write a novel without spaces." No more slapping the spacebar every half-second. No more stretching your thumbs.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 07:18 PM

Iranian typography exhibit to celebrate Georgian mother tongue day

Tehran Times
The Faculty of Humanities of Ivane Javakhishvili of the Tbilisi State University will host the exhibition on the Day of Mother Tongue, which is celebrated annually on April 14. The exhibit entitled “The Mystery of Georgian Script” will run from April 11 to 20.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 03:26 PM

Romancing the bone

Liu Xiangrui, Li Yuefeng / China Daily
The excavations carried out at Yinxu and the finding of the oracle bones significantly changed China's historical records. The inscriptions on these bones are the precursor of modern Chinese calligraphy, according to Tang Jigen, a researcher with the Institute of Archeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 02:45 PM

Spelling policy requested

Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
School trustees have decided to turn to the Haida Education Council for guidance after receiving a request from the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program. The elders who attend the Skidegate program wrote to the school district last month, asking that it write a policy around standardizing the program's Haida orthography (spelling) for use at Sk'aadgaa Naay Elementary and Queen Charlotte Secondary schools.
  • Apr 02, 2012
  • 01:52 AM

Now, chat or mail in Odia

Minati Singha / Times of India
BHUBANESWAR: What can be a better Utkal Divas gift than an e-mail written in Odia script? A group of Bhubaneswar-based young techies have developed a unique web portal,, through which one can send e-mail, chat and communicate in eight Indian languages along with English. The site, growing more and more popular everyday, already has over 500 members within a week of its launch.
  • Mar 31, 2012
  • 11:37 PM

Which tongues work best for microblogs?

The Economist
Japanese is concise too: fans of haiku, poems in 17 syllables, can tweet them readily. Though Korean and Arabic require a little more space, tweeters routinely omit syllables in Korean words; written Arabic routinely omits vowels anyway. Arabic tweets mushroomed last year, though thanks to the uprisings across the Middle East rather than any linguistic features.
  • Mar 29, 2012
  • 02:07 AM

A new serif in town: The fonts used on London's signs and shops have an army of fans

Simon Usborne / The Independent
Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type, a book about fonts, says the letters on signs as well as shopfronts and buildings have a crucial and increasingly overlooked role. "You should be able to be parachuted into any city in Europe and know where you are instantly from seeing the typeface," he says. "You can land at a London airport and know you're there because you see Gill Sans everywhere."
  • Mar 28, 2012
  • 01:34 PM

This Czech is a Gujarati 'type'

The Times of India
VADODARA: David Brezina neither speaks nor understands Gujarati. But in May-June this year, he will come out with new typefaces for Gujarati language. This he says will make the Gujarati script more visually appealing.
  • Mar 26, 2012
  • 11:48 AM

‘Character’ Study: Author Ellen Cushman is Fascinated With Cherokee Writing

Roy Boney Jr. / Indian Country Today Media
I wanted to trace the visual lineage of the glyphs. How did they move from longhand to shorthand? What aspects were retained? How might their visual lineage help users remember the 86 characters, when on the face of it, the print seemed so different from the script? It was that mystery of how it was learned so dang quickly and how there was no lag in reading and writing rates after it moved to print.
  • Mar 26, 2012
  • 11:41 AM

Book Strips Away the Myth Surrounding the Cherokee Syllabary

Roy Boney Jr. / Indian Country Today Media
It was the great Sequoyah (ca. 1770–1843) who invented the Cherokee syllabary, thereby making reading and writing in that language possible. He labored on his creation for years while his peers derided his efforts, some going so far as to denounce it as witchcraft.
  • Mar 23, 2012
  • 11:10 AM

When the alphabet is not the problem

Siarl Ferdinand / UB Post
For many children (the Mongolians of the future) the Mongolian Script is a 'stupid alphabet' and they 'hate it' because 'it is difficult to learn.' Many Mongolians argue that it is useless because, in their words, nobody writes in Mongol Bichig any more. Finally, another group of people claims that its use would close Mongolia to the world. But are these affirmations really true?
  • Mar 21, 2012
  • 07:33 PM

In which brain do you read?

University of Haifa
Readers whose mother tongue is Arabic have more challenges reading in Arabic than native Hebrew or English speakers have reading their native languages, because the two halves of the brain divide the labor differently when the brain processes Arabic than when it processes Hebrew or English.
  • Mar 21, 2012
  • 11:20 AM

Spanish language classes help open the door to English for many Mexican immigrants to city

Erica Pearson / New York Daily News
They come in with the goal of learning English — but the first step must be dominating reading, writing and grammar in Spanish. “We can’t send people to English classes if they can’t read or write in Spanish,” said Gonzalo Mercado, executive director of El Centro del Inmigrante in Staten Island, which offers classes every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:12 PM

CTMR starts project to train Siddha practitioners to decode ancient palm leaf manuscripts

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor /
For the participation in the workshop, CTMR has selected 13 post graduate students in Siddha, four Siddha physicians and four indigenous healers, and made them capable of reading and decoding the manuscripts. The training contained basic language skill, ancient grammar, different types of scripts, and numerals.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:09 PM

Gifts celebrates Ireland's 1st written language

Brittany Lyte / Ct Post
Ogham is the first written form of the Irish language. It originated as a series of intersecting lines that's read bottom to top. In the 4th Century, the early Irish carved Ogham characters into wood and stone to mark territory. It was eventually replaced by the Latin alphabet.
  • Mar 15, 2012
  • 09:01 PM

Jewish, Muslim scribes keep calligraphy art alive

Bernat Armangue / Seattle Post Intelligencer
JERUSALEM — In a world overwhelmed by electronic gadgets that have changed the way we read, write and learn, the Jewish and Islamic arts of calligraphy have preserved their methods for generations.
  • Mar 14, 2012
  • 11:27 PM

How the QWERTY Keyboard Is Changing the Chinese Language

Chance Kinney / Chip Chick
As computers become more widely used and handwriting is used less, the need to know how to write Chinese characters is decreasing. Computers represent a fundamental shift in the way students produce the written Chinese language, and have led to what is now being termed character amnesia. Some students are literally forgetting how to write. This starts with the most complex, least used characters, and works down from there.
  • Mar 14, 2012
  • 12:49 PM

Hieroglyphics turn prisoner away from a life of crime

Thomas H. Maugh / Los Angeles Times
Using the cartons from his allotment of morning milk, Fenstermacher would make flashcards, each bearing a single hieroglyph — four a day for a decade. He read the cards while he worked out, forcing himself to get five right before switching exercises. "Fortunately, I've been blessed with a phenomenal memory," he said. He now has what he calls "a small dictionary in my head."
  • Mar 13, 2012
  • 12:33 PM

The Writing on the Wall: Symbols from the Palaeolithic

Past Horizons
In 2009, a ground-breaking study by Genevieve von Petzinger revealed that dots, lines and other geometric signs found in prehistoric European caves may be the precursor to an ancient system of written communication dating back nearly 30,000 years. Von Petzinger, with University of Victoria anthropology professor April Nowell, compiled the markings from 146 different sites in Ice Age France, making it possible to compare the signs on a larger scale than had ever previously been attempted.
  • Mar 12, 2012
  • 02:43 AM

Initiative to standardise virtual keyboards

T. Ramachandran / The Hindu
An initiative has been launched under the aegis of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to standardise virtual or touch-screen keyboards in Indian languages for use in smart phones and tablet computers.
  • Mar 11, 2012
  • 07:12 PM

Of Words and Woods

Nataly Kelly / Huffington Post
"Five minutes of looking at these photos has done more to make me appreciate languages than anything I've ever seen or heard before," he said, after gazing upon a set of endangered scripts painstakingly carved into slabs of gleaming Vermont curly maple. The boards are part of an exhibition called "Endangered Alphabets: An Essay in Wood."
  • Mar 11, 2012
  • 03:24 PM

‘Use of scripts marker for one’s culture, identity’

Deccan Herald
Konkani is a language that is spoken by about two million people in the West Coast of India and is written in several scripts such as Devanagiri, Roman, Kannada, Malyalam, Gujarati and Urdu. The use of these scripts has been done for ages and is an important marker for one’s culture and identity, said Rodrigues.
  • Mar 07, 2012
  • 11:23 AM

App helps blind to send text messages

BBC News
Brailletouch, which the team hope to release in the next couple of weeks, uses a system that is controlled with six fingers and, crucially, does not require any movement of the hands. "Users who know how to type Braille well never move their hands," explained Mario Romero, lead researcher on the project.
  • Mar 07, 2012
  • 01:43 AM

Inmate Braille Program to Help the Blind Enters its 10th Year

Machak /
He wants to help train inmates at Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) in Braille, the unique language that makes life better for the approximately 1.3 million people without vision, and see the inmates go onto to use their new skills for employment when it’s time to return to society.