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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 22 October 2012

The Linguistics of Politics

The Koreans invented their own writing system - they did it to ensure literacy among the broader populace, as learning Chinese characters was a complicated task that only elites with free time could master.  The resulting phonetic alphabet is one of the easiest to learn in all of human language.  The system was designed with the user in mind; the rules were carefully recorded and taught to ensure continuity.
King Se-Jong created this system because he understood the intrinsic value of knowledge and communication.  He wanted to spread the light of wisdom throughout his kingdom, knowing the benefits would be countless.  The Chinese system was still kept in tandem because there was value in having multiple systems to record and share ideas, both to inform and provide counter-balance.
Now look at this writing system, undeciphered, lost to history.  The Mr One Hundreds might have created their own system for political reasons; to be distinct from the Mesopotamians or to ensure that only the elites had access.  They defined themselves, after all, on how many people they ruled over - not by what they accomplished.  So cautiously did they guard their literary secrets, however, that the system could not be sustained.  Without collaboration, without sharing, without embracing diversity, their story ended up going extinct.
It's the same with writing as it is with language, culture or ethnicity.  That which stagnates in isolation dies.  That which embraces diversity, transparency and collaboration evolves and continues.

Proto-Elamite script

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