Wordplay is a documentary about the New York Times crossword puzzle setters and solvers. A little aghast. One of the talking heads claims that English is the greatest language.
Interested in comparing greatness by number of speakers? Check out the listing at ethnologue.com which gives the top languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers. And for rhetorical good measure is Latin a greater language than English? Consider A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World and Robert Bringhurst’s appeal that the work of Skaay and Ghandl ranks among the greatest literature of the world. On the dynamics of fame and literature see Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages entry for Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, a novel that plays with cultural forgetting and memory. The Encyclopedia provides readers with a quick reference to the language and work of Vondramach Okk.
[J]ust as curious, is the “made-up” language of Vondramach Okk, a tyrannical matriarch who decided that “since nobody ever took the poetry of political leaders seriously, it didn’t matter what language she wrote it in”. The language of Okk’s poetry employs “both a phonetic and an ideographic writing system” and complex letters called “shiftrunes”. Shiftrunes represent a structured sequence of changing pronunciation, a writing technique that allows the poet to contrast visual and phonetic relations (Delany’s theme of difference sounds again in microcosm here). Okk’s works include the epics the Oneirokritika and the Energumenika and collections of lyrics such as Lyroks and Hermione at Buthrot. No samples of her poetry appear in the novel.
Focussing on the question of crosswords, Quora collects some interesting replies to the question: Is there a written language in which it is impossible to create crossword puzzles? If not, replace “impossible” with “really hard”.
And so for day 1441