The Invention of the New Writing System
Four years ago, when my daughter, Mahdiyeh, enthusiastically started elementary school, I did not know that the most important challenge on her way in education, would be learning how to read and write Persian alphabet. The problem got even more difficult at the second and third degree of the elementary school so that she could gradually get disappointed with school.
Just at the same time, I found an idea in my mind to try to solve the problem for her and for all other children going to school. Of course, in a second thought one could realize that inability in reading and writing is not limited just to the elementary school students. Rather, some grown up people, even university teachers sometimes are incapable of reading texts instantly, fast and freely from mistakes. Possibly, a great amount of time and energy among Persian speakers is spent on learning how to use the sources rather than enjoying their contents; a more careful study will reveal that this can cause one to be later or slower than expected or desired.
Anyway, I set to work and did research and studied some old and recent sources criticizing the Persian alphabet sign system. I gathered the criticisms about different aspects. The classification of the problems with the Persian alphabet sign system includes about 30 kinds of major and minor problems; despite this fact, there has not been a serious intention among the people in charge to change the Persian alphabet sign system. However, in the recent decade, the current technological advancements, regardless of the previous problems, can lead to a serious predicament so that we are left we a dilemma of two choices of either changing the Persian alphabet sign system or letting the system be completely destroyed.
If we consider the present situation away from prejudice and closed-mindedness, we will notice that the thin neck of the Persian alphabet sign system is between the teeth of new technology from two sides and is being threatened by computers and cell phones.
The people concerned with Persian alphabet sign system are divided into two groups:
One which is biased and neither shows leniency nor does it have a solution to the problem; and if they are let take charge of dealing with the problem, the Persian alphabet sign system will be at loss. This tasteless group always rejects any changes, even small ones. Even we can be more pessimistic in our judgment and agree with a famous writer who says that the knowledge of some of the people who disagree with changing Persian alphabet sign system is as lame as the Persian alphabet sign system itself; and they may loose the briskness of their business if any reform takes place.
The second group is like a kind mother concerned with Persian alphabet sign system , and I deem myself among this group. If there is a choice between the death or change, this group will immediately choose to change the system.
Presently, if we compare the young people with the elders of the Persian speaker society, we will notice that the former uses computers and cell phones. Everyday, they use the internet and e-mail, and send messages via mobile phones. To do this, they make use of English alphabets even for writing Persian words (this is commonly referred to as finglish). This can imply that the Persian alphabet sign system in the referred arena is on its way to death.
Among the thirty problems with the Persian alphabet sign system, one can notice that the system is not technical and can not be appropriately adapted with the new technology and equipments. This problem is currently the Achilles' heel of the Persian alphabet sign system. This can be the major reason for changing the Persian writing system. The problems with the current Persian alphabet sign system can be outlined as the following:
1. It is hard and tiresome to learn.
2. The number of the alphabets in their different shapes mounts to 126 signs, which is too many.
3. It is not possible to use it in fields relevant to mathematics, physics, chemistry, music, computer, astrology, communication, flight engineering, chess, number controls, etc.
4. It is not technical and is not adaptable with current technology.
5. The words are hard to read because of the absence of some vowels.
6. The representation of some morphemes with more than one symbol results in the occurrence of mistakes and leads to haphazardness in the Persian writing and literature.
7. It is written from right to left and it is not possible to be written from left to right or top-bottom.
8. Because the letters are not written separately from each other, many popular softwares are not adaptable with it.
9. Because of some non-geometrical figures, which can not be framed within circles or squares, it is impossible to employ it in some electronic hardwares.
10. It is very hard to teach and learn and make it adaptable interlingually for non-natives.
11. It is hard to create new non-fancy fonts with them.
12. The number of the Persian word has got superfluous and unnecessary.
13. It cannot compete with the international foreign alphabet systems because it is not adaptable easily with the standards for application in technology; this has led to the prevalence of the foreign alphabet system among people, especially the young ones.
14. The width of the Persian words is less than that of the words in other languages; the same is true with number of the lines in one page, resulting in mismatch of the paragraph sizes in e.g. translation.
15. The current writing system is alphabetical, which causes numerous problems.
16. It costs more to send telecommunication messages in Persian compared with e.g. in English.
17. It is hard to use this sign system in making Persian equivalents for English names, e.g. names for medicines; this has resulted in a chaotic situation.
18. The current system is hard to learned trough self study.
19. Because of the problems of this sign system, the people know very little about it.
20. The current sign system is not exclusive and it is void of national identity and tendencies.
When there is a discussion on changing the Persian alphabet sign system, some unaware people mistakenly dispute that the intention is to destroy "the Persian language and literature". They cry out that "alas, our inheritance was demolished and Persian language got destroyed and … Sa'di and Hafiz are no more resting in peace." But a moment of hesitation could reveal that changing the Persian alphabet sign system does not mean to destroy the Persian language and literature, because such a reform has always been at work since far away years until some one thousand years ago through some stages and now we have our lively Persian language.
During the last two centuries, we can almost find nobody who has talked about the problems with Persian alphabet sign system along with rendering some solutions. Yet, I have intended to provide a solution after being inspired by my daughter's problem in learning this system. I have spent much energy and time and have reformed the Persian alphabet system and removed all those problems.
I have vested a lot of consideration in the Ostadi's alphabet sign system, in the absence of which the sign system would look differently from what it does now. However, I would like to talk about its advantages before it is attacked by its opponents. I also add in advance that the proposed sign system is at its infancy and after being studied, discussed and criticized I will improve it and efficient designers and calligraphers will help ornate it and develop it to a unique sign system; then it can be the official alphabet sign system for Persian speakers.
- The advantages of Ostadi Alphabet sign system:
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system is a technical sign system and applicable in fields like physics and chemistry and it is also adaptable with the current technological equipments such as computers, cell phones, etc.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system employs separate signs and can be written from right to left, left to right, top down or bottom up. The value of this advantage is better understood with experts.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system can be taught to children in a period of at most one year. Once learnt, it can be exploited up to the end of life at any education level. In fact, a school student and a university teacher will have equal knowledge in employing the Persian alphabet sign system for reading and writing.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system consists of twenty four letters and three vowel signs in the text which in comparison to the current sign system, consisting of a hundred and twenty eight letters, enjoys superiority for learning and using. It is necessary to mention that the omission of some of the Persian letters has taken place based on some research, about which I have provided a detailed account in my book.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system is equally easy to read and write, i.e. it is read as it is written. Therefore, it is free from unintentional mistakes in writing and reading. So, everybody can easily "write correctly" and "read correctly".
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system can be understood and learned by foreigners quickly and with spending very little energy. Furthermore, it has been designed in a way to get international approval.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system is the most similar to the current Persian writing system. It has been tried to keep the former forms unchanged as much as possible, so that the generation gap in realizing it is reduced as much as possible. Therefore, the new system adopts the previous Persian alphabet sign system, without suffering from its deficiencies.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system has the potential to be adopted by softwares, by which the texts can be published via the new system easily. It is possible to reprint all the previously published books with the new writing system by employing a simple software, so that no gap results between the current and new alphabet sign systems.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system has an authentic Iranian identity and is the only system invented by the Iranians themselves; since, Persian speakers have never had an exclusive alphabet sign system through the history.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system enjoys the potentiality of being offered internationally, and if Persian speakers can be a center in the future for the production of knowledge and science, this sign system has the capability of being a means for rendering the scientific achievements easily and quickly around the world.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system can cause a distinction between the Arabic language and literature writing system and that of the Persian language. This is very crucial in preserving the Persian language and literature. Currently, it is surprising that the vast cultural invasion of the Arabic on Persian is neglected and just the destructive effects of English language on Persian are considered.
- The Ostadi alphabet sign system, through employing appropriate softwares, can help to change the image of texts to typed texts in computers. This very single advantage can stop much of the time wasted by scholars, especially those involved with the studies on Persian language and literature. In other words, it will be possible to scan the texts of books and quickly change them into typed texts.
The above issues are a brief account of numerous advantages for the Ostadi alphabet sign system. However, there are two trivial deficiencies with this sign system; these deficiencies are also find in most of the alphabet sign systems current in the world, but they can be ignored. The problems are explained below:
· Since the Ostadi alphabet sign system employs separate alphabet signs, compared with the current sign system, it will take longer time to write with it. Of course, two considerations cause this deficiency fade away: first, most of the (young) Persian speakers, and in near future all of them, are capable of writing with English and some other separate alphabet sign systems, so they will be able to adapt with the Ostadi alphabet sign system, and the problem will be forgotten after a while; second, as we move on, there remains less role for writing with one's hand, and most people prefer to type. Therefore, the separate alphabet sign system will not suffer anymore from the deficiencies of time-taking and fatigue and the problem will not remain anymore with typing equipments.
· The second problem, also found in other alphabet sign systems and to some extent in the current Persian system, is the issue of assigning meaning to homonym words. Since there are no repetitive alphabet signs in the Ostadi system, the meanings of some words are to be realized within the context. The current Persian alphabet sign system suffers from the same problem as well. For instance, words such as "مهر" and "کرم" are ambiguous and may be read in at least in two ways as "kerm" and "karam" and "mehr" and "mohr" respectively. The ambiguity in such words is impossible to remove unless the words are read within the context or some signs are applied to help realize the vowel sounds. The same problem exists in the Ostadi alphabet sign system and the words are to be interpreted within appropriate context and they can be read in various ways if they are decontextualized.
At the end, I have added a sample text written with the Ostadi alphabet sign system. The following text is the first page of Sa'di's Golestan (Flower Garden). I request that an optimistic view is applied in the evaluation of my innovative alphabet system and hostile and discouraging criticisms are avoided. I look forward to sincere recommendations so that I can remove the deficiencies of this alphabet sign system.
If God willing, I will soon publish a book of four hundred pages titled as "The Ostadi Alphabet Sign System", consisting of eight chapters on: the invention of writing, kinds of sign system, study of the current alphabet sign system, conclusion and solutions, considerations on designing alphabet sign system, introduction of the Ostadi alphabet sign system, alphabet sign system in the future world, and bibliography. The book provides convincing account on the reasons for changing the alphabet sign system and introduces the Ostadi alphabet sign system perfectly. It is hoped that the book can help improve the efforts for changing the alphabet system.
Table of Contents for the Book of "The Ostadi Alphabet Sign System"
Chapter One: The Invention of Writing System
Human Relationship: How do people interact and communicate with the environment around them?
Metaphysical Communication: Is it possible for man to communicate by other means beside the senses of body?
The First Communication: How was the first human communication?
The Reason for the Development of Language: Was the language developed
just because of the interaction and communication of people?
Encoding Oral Language with Written Signs: Why was language encoded through temporary or permanent signs?
The Relationship between Language and Writing: How is language related to writing?
Definition of Writing System: Is it possible to provide a comprehensive definition for writing system?
The Invention of Writing System: When was the writing system invented and who were its inventors?
The Proportion of the Number of Writing Systems to the Languages: Why the number of the writing systems has been less than the number of languages throughout the history?
Speaking, Listening, Writing and Reading: What are the stages for the conveyance of overt meaning between two people?
The General Effects of Writing Systems: What are short term and long term effects of the writing systems?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Writing Systems: What are the general advantages and disadvantages of writing systems compared with other communication systems?
A General History of Writing System: What is the general history of writing system in terms of number, geographical location, extension, birth place, inventor, the reason of the invention, duration of application, and the structural (alphabetical, syllabic, etc.) differences?
The Reasons for the Numerousness of Writing Systems: Why were writing systems developed through different types and no single writing system could get prevalent among all nations.
Chapter Two: The Types of Writing Systems