| UP (discussion topics) | TOP
Parts of this message can be found in the following threads:
;From: Jo Jaquinta <email@example.com>
;Subject: Cherryhlist/Kif Writing
;Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 17:17:38 BST
THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF KIF WRITING
The earlies forms of Kifish communication existed as territorial
markings scratched on trees and other surfaces as a warning to others not
to tresspass. Thus the original glyphs were representative signs for
individuals, names if you would. As their social unit evolved so did the
complexity of the signs. Not only did they simply have to denote what
belonged to whom but who belongs to whom and what social position they
maintained. Thus the original pictograms developed into ideograms that
could express more complex issues.
The next leap forward in Kifish writing came with the development
from hunting to hearding. With a, relatively, more stationary base
fortifications developed to protect territory and with it the ability to
work clay and mortar. Having previously used their claws for marking wood
and soft material this translated very effectively to writing on clay
tablets. With this new medium an additional amount of variety was
made possible, namely dots in addition to strokes, and we can date the
age of certain word-forms by this.
Writing seems to have been largely in the form of military
instructions alternating with a complex arsenal of phrases for
intimidation and suplication. The major archeological records for
this period consist of courier tablets and engraved stone steles
erected in praise of a regional Hakt, possibly at the entrance to
As Main Kiffish developed the written language became large
and unwieldly as new ideograms and logograms were introduced as that
culture expanded. Similar symbols had widely divergant meanings over
different regions. A certain resentment began to develop toward scribes
as professionals now needed to be used for communication and translation.
The warrior elite could not afford to be without some literacy as to
trust their scribes implicitly would weaken their position. Their fears
were justified as there are several incidents told, possibly apocryphal,
of warrior-scribes taking the leadership and the ensuing chaos that
came of it.
What developed from this was a more widespread use of a technique
originally used to record foriegn names. As these names were quite diverse
and it was impractical to represent them with unique logograms they were
represented as concatenated logograms of Main Kiffish words of single
syllables. Thus the name Tikkakkhun was represented by the three logograms
for the Main Kiffish words tikk, akkh, and the modifier un.
If the scribe-warrior tales are fictional they can be seen as
stories promoting the use of the syllogramatic writing base on a wider
scale. In any event it is this form that eventually won through.
The basic syllograms were established at that time and, with a few
simplifications and changes of pronunciation, are widely used today for
formal Kifish documentation. The latest development in Kifish writing is
realtively recent and has to do with its adaption to the digital computer
and pixel orientated display.
In their early days of computing the space and processing power
of their devices and the resolution of their monitors was low. Too low to
adequately express the large number of syllograms in common usage.
Originally the basic syllograms, which by linguistic evolution were also
the most common, were represented. This saw them through their initial
experimental stage but as the use of computers became more widespread
it proved insufficient.
In a curious parallel to previous development these most common
glyphs were used to represent individual sounds. As this developed into
an alphabetic system the syllograms in turn became composed of these
individual letter-glyphs. Although that was a transitory stage in their
technological development the alphabetic system is still largely used
for data entry and storage.
Moving to the letter-glyphs themselves it can be redily seen
that they display the general left-to-right and top-to-bottom nature
of Main Kifish writing. Horizontal strokes always point right and vertial
one always point down. Diagonal strokes usually draw from upper left
to lower right but a few go from upper right to lower left.
The least sophisticated data entry and display systems currently
in use comprise of a keyboard, with claw-depression keys, consisting
of the alphabetic glyps (see below). The display device displays the
glyphs as they are entered.
More advanced systems translate the glyphs into syllograms
on-screen as they are typed. Thus typing "t" would produce that alphabetic
glyph on the screen but when followed by the "ikk" keystroke it would
coalesce into the "tikk" syllogram. These keyboards usually have two
"space bars". One for explicitly signifying syllable breaks (as with all
natural languages there are certain ambiguities that defy computer
algorithyms) and another for explicitly speficying word breaks.
More advanced systems consist of a data entry pad where the
operator can literally claw out the letter or syllogram. On some a small
area is reserved for tapping on to indicate that the character is done.
On others it is purely done by time delay. On the most advanced systems
the keyboard is both an input and output device changing to meet the
data-entry requirements of the software being run.
Here now follows the most basic representation of the Kiffish
A AK AKK SG
..@@@@@@@@@@.. ..@@@@@@@@@@.. ..@@@@@@@@@@.. ..@@@@@@@@@@..
....@@@@@@.... ....@@@@@@.... ....@@@@@@.... ....@@@@@@....
......@@...... ......@@...... @@....@@...... ......@@......
......@@...... ..@@..@@...... @@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@......
......@@...... ..@@@@@@@@@@.. @@....@@...... ..@@..@@......
......@@...... ..@@..@@...... @@@@@@@@@@@@@@ ..@@..@@......
......@@...... ......@@...... @@....@@...... ..@@..@@......
[For anyone who is interested in the rest of the alphabet it can be
found on the archive in the pub/jaymin/cherryh/sup directory
called kifwri.txt. There is also a kif8x8.fnt and kif8x16.fnt font
files for the Microsoft Software Development Kit for Windows]
Copyright by the author of the original message.
WWW formatting by Andreas Wandelt (look here for email address)