Re: The History of the Alphabet
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 15:50:42 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 10/7/97 11:45:25 AM, wrote:

>> I find it an exceptional advantage to be able to call across the country
>> or across the ocean and talk to people and understand them. People today
>> having a hard time with Shakespeare and Chaucer is more an issue of
>> general illiteracy and lack of the Chinese reverence for the ancestors
>> than of phonetic drift.
>Yes, the technology of the phone might have been different had our
>language suffered as much phonetic diversity as the Chinese; perhaps
>the telegraph would have been more useful, the symbol set much larger,
>and would have been automated sooner.

But our language *has* suffered as much phonetic diversity as Chinese. It's
just that the dialects as close to ours as Mandarin is to Cantonese or Wu are
called Dutch, German, and Swiss-German. Voice is more satisfying and faster,
especially if you have to signal ideograms; people just restrict their
calling to those who they can speak to. That's no more onerous for a
Cantonese speaker than a Dutch one.