Origins of left, right, & vertical writing.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Dinosaur, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,618
    The following is speculated & very likely correct.

    Right to left due to the first writing being done on stone with a hammer & chisel-like instrument, the hammer being used by the right hand.

    Left to right writing due to the first writing being done with an instrument like a modern pen. The medium being either clay or something similar to modern paper. This avoids smudging already written words.

    Oriental top to bottom writing due to using a paint brush.​
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. DrKrettin Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    169
    As a left-hander, I say that certainly makes sense. Pushing the pen across the page is unnatural, and some left-handers go to extraordinary lengths to hold the pen so they drag it.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,642
    So what's the reason for boustrophedon?
    Inability to make up your mind?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. DrKrettin Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    169
    Ha ha, that's with inscriptions on a wall, where you walk from one end to the other then back again. Incidentally, the letters in the Greek alphabet are almost all symmetric about a vertical axis, so that it makes no difference reading either way. But I once detected an inscription in stone (I forget where) where the scribe had written a normal gamma, but facing the wrong way because he had forgotten he was going from right to left on the second boustrophedon line. There was an attempt at correction, but not so easy in stone.
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    1. Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, Zeta, Kappa, Nu, Rho, and Sigma, about one-third of the Greek alphabet, are NOT symmetric about a vertical axis.
     
  9. DrKrettin Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    169
    True - "almost all" was an overstatement, obviously unacceptable on a science forum. There is a famous palindrome (wiki) ΝΙΨΟΝ ΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑ ΜΗ ΜΟΝΑΝ ΟΨΙΝ where the only letter which doesn't work is the Nu. In the picture in the link you can see that the Nu is inverted in the second half.

    Greek vases often have named characters, and if the space requires it, the names are written from right to left. In those cases, the unsymmetrical letters are often, but not always, inverted. I think the inconsistency is attributed to the illiteracy of the vase painter.
     

Share This Page