O, E, A

Thursday, 15 December 2011 09:02
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Sometimes when people press multiple buttons in the lift in my office building, I see a Braille letter. (The buttons are in a 4×4 grid.)

Yesterday and today, there was a >-shaped pattern that’s Braille "o" (at different positions; yesterday, my floor was the middle dot, this morning, the top dot).

And I noticed that as the “lower” dots progressively disappeared, that the corresponding Braille letters remained vowels! Interesting.

First, there was a ⠕ “o”, then a ⠑ “e”, and finally a ⠁ “a”.

Fun.

It was a bit like discovering that you can build up a katakana letter stroke by stroke with each new stroke forming a new letter along the way (though you wouldn’t write it in that order): ノ “no” --> フ “fu” --> ワ “wa” --> ウ “u”.

pne: Dots representing "pne" in Braille. (brl)

Two of my Anki decks are "Braille: English Grades 1 & 2" and "Teeline Shorthand Basics".

I know hardly any Teeline, especially abbreviations, but it's interesting that many of the single-letter abbreviations of Teeline are the same as in Braille (e.g. f = from, v = very).

No wonder, I suppose, since both want to represent the most common words that way.

Still, interesting how they differ (e.g. e = every in Braille but e = electric(ity) in Teeline, or k = knowledge in Braille but k = kind in Teeline). Or how Teeline sometimes betrays its origin in journalism, as with l = letter and p = page (l = like and p = person in Braille IIRC).

pne: Dots representing "pne" in Braille. (brl)

I wonder how many native speakers of a sign language learn a second sign language. At a hunch, I’d imagine that fewer do than those who use a vocal language, if only because foreign languages are compulsory in many schools I know (which all use speech for instruction) but I don’t know whether the same is true for schools taught through the medium of sign language.

I also wonder what the situation is for readers of Braille: how many of them learn the Braille system of a foreign language. Here, I can much more easily imagine such a person learning a foreign (vocal) language at school, but I don’t know whether they would get taught the Brailly system used by native speakers of that language.

For example, would a German person learning English at school use German Braille to represent it, English Grade 1 Braille (which, I think, differs mostly only in a couple of punctuation marks from German basic Braille), or would they learn “proper” Grade 2 Braille (which, of course, has all sorts of different abbreviation rules compared to German contracted Braille)?

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

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pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
Philip Newton

June 2015

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