Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ABC Wednesday--Beginning again with A is for...

alphabet
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without which we would not be starting a fourth round of ABC Wednesday .
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Visit Denise and the dedicated site to find the details. There is no Mr. Linky this week as Mr. Linky is undergoing some renovations.
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Did you learn as a child that the alphabet had both "Upper Case" letters and "Lower Case" letters? Did you ever wonder what that was all about?
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Well, have a look here at the "case" in which a printer would keep the bits of type in little sections. The capital letters were in the upper cases, the small letters were kept in the lower cases. Hence--upper and lower case. (Sorry for the burn-out in this picture. The sun was shining very brightly in that spot.)
This type case went with this antique but still functioning printing press which we saw at Rubel's Castle last summer...
...which bears some resemblance to this antique printing press we saw in a museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, ten years ago....
...which might have used type similar to this (which was probably kept in a type case) which printed a few lines of a small town Siberian newspaper in the Cyrillic alphabet.
The story behind the Cyrillic alphabet newspaper type: In the remote town we visited, we were the first American tourists. Our hosts, whom we had met online, took us to visit all the sites of their town, and in each place we were given a gift. This was the gift of the newspaper, where we were interviewed about our trip. It later became a bit of a liability, as every time I went through the X-ray at an airport, I had to explain it to someone with whom I had no common language.
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Here is a sign in Russian--in the Cyrillic alphabet. It is at the gateway to the Stolby National Park. The C = an English S, the Л sounds like an L, the Б is a B, the bl is one letter and sounds like a final Y. So: Stolby. The language is very phonetic. Each of the 31 letters has only one sound, and you can sound words out easily if you know the code.

Here are some other souvenirs with the Cyrillic alphabet on them:
Salt, pepper, and sugar from the airlines:







and plastic shopping bags.

During the four weeks we were in Russia, I mastered enough of the Cyrillic alphabet that we were able to find our destination on a timetable, choose a bus or subway line and find our stop, identify certain kinds of stores, and choose a few simple things from a menu.
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Two summers later, I traveled to India for four weeks with a group of teachers. English is one of the official languages of India, but in the area where we were, there were many more people who spoke Hindi and Tamil.

You can see an example of the alphabet used there in this Pepsi sign.
I asked one of the Christian Brothers with whom we were working how many letters there were in this alphabet. He thought a moment and then replied "256." That was when I knew that I would not be sounding out any words in Tamil or Hindi.

5 comments:

Anne-Berit said...

Great A-post.Have a nice day!

diXymiss said...

ThanX for teaching me something new, Miss Katney! I learned the terminology "uppercase" and "lowercase" in school, but didn't know the origin. Love this bit of trivia!

Mary said...

That is all very fascinating to know. YOu are always a font of knowledge and a good teacher.

PERBS said...

Very interesting information about the Russian alphabet. . . the rest was great too!

I have a couple printer trays -- bought them to put my miniatures in and they hang on my living room wall. I knew the info about them already! Ü

You were so fortunate to get to travel so much!

Liz said...

256?! I'm impressed that you coped with small cyrillic alphabet. Words in Russian always look so scary!