Sunday, March 2, 2008

How Do You Translate 'QWERTY' to Dutch?

Given enough monkeys typing randomly on American-English typewriters , they would eventually reproduce the complete text of the Dutch Beast blog entries. In other countries, our familiar 26 letter alphabet might not be enough to do the trick. Most modern alphabets owe their root to the written script that originated in the Canaanite region in ~1800 BC. (Yes that is the same Canaan that brought us Joshua and Caleb.) As languages diverged and developed, letters were added and changed. One of the ways sampler historians date and place sampler is to look at the alphabets and take note of what they see... and what they don't see.

In doing the research for the alphabet motifs that I would use on this sampler, I wondered idly about the minimum number of letters ever seen on a sampler. This side track led to my Hawaiian Mandala Sampler, which celebrates those twelve little letters that the Hawaiian Monkeys would have on their keyboards.

Today we get the Beast's Tiny Alphabet that goes along with the Big Honkin' Initials. You probably weren't expecting a J, but you are also being deprived of your Q, V, X, Y, Z (at least initially). Hey, where did that V go?

For those of you that are readers, I must share with you this fun book I've read that called "Ella Minnow Pea: a progressively lipogrammatically epistolary fable." An isolated society worships the gent that penned the phrase about the quick brown fox. As the ceramic tiles bearing the letters in that phrase fall one-by-one, the government officially bans each letter from all usage. It's a nice fable about out-of-control totalitarianistic government and free speech, but also entertaining to decipher as the characters creatively try to communicate using fewer and fewer of our 26 letters.

You may have noticed that I snuck in this fountain motif below the alphabet. Fountains are not terribly common, but certainly they show up on many Dutch samplers, commonly with birds. Then again, the Dutch have sprinkled their birds liberally onto the samplers. Yet, I don't think I've seen a single cat on one. That must be what has led these birds to their false sense of security. I've slipped this short paragraph into the text here, hoping not to cause a big stir. You see, I am anxious to see whether the cat gets dinner or ends up taking a bath. Shhhhh...


Anonymous said...

Well gollygee Tracy you've left me speechless concerning the wonky alphabet. Oh, I guess that's Dutch for QWERTY. This part of the design will be hard for me as I have a tendency to correct alphabets when letters are left out or misplaced. Did I mention I'm not a purist when it comes to repros, which probably explains why the Dutch Beast appeals to me. LOL The fountain is a nice balance to the eagle on the other side of the humongous initials. I wonder though if the kitty is going to end up in as much danger as that poor little chihuahua.


Anonymous said...

Check out Thea Dueck's "O CANADA" Sampler for another cool alphabet on a reads: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOCANADAPQRSTUVWXYZ"

Edy in NYC