Friday, September 19, 2008

who says language evolves scientifically?

Not me, for sure. I was reading an obituary (morbid, I know) and something that was said there struck me as curious. Read, see if the last sentence of the quote jumps out at you like it did for me.
Martin K. Tytell Obituary at the NY Times

"He made a hieroglyphics typewriter for a museum curator, and typewriters with musical notes for musicians. He adapted keyboards for amputees and other wounded veterans. He invented a reverse-carriage device that enabled him to work in right-to-left languages like Arabic and Hebrew. An error he made on a Burmese typewriter, inserting a character upside down, became a standard, even in Burma."


Jorgen said...

That is PRECISELY how language "evolves scientifically" - at least it seems to me... these little "mutations" that become more efficient become the standard.

Brian said...

Along what Jorgen said, what could be more scientific than a happy accident?

Anonymous said...

How else could there be mutations?

Scott Abbott said...

Where else but in Burma ("even in Burma") would an error on a Burmese language typewriter become standard?