Friday, November 25, 2005

Semitish

I received this email a few days ago.

I wanted to ask you about something that I believe I once saw somewhere online but I can't find now. It pertains to a Hebrew and Arabic alphabet reform that someone was proposing, an odd combination of the two alphabets. Does that ring a bell? If so, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me who is behind this so I can look it up. Thanks!

This is something that I had never heard of and it doesn't google very well. So I posted this message in Qalam, the writing systems forum. In about half an hour I received a reply.

While I am delighted to receive such emails - flattered really, readers can themselves go straight to qalam and bypass me althogether. There you will find 268 script enthusiasts. Right now it looks a little quiet. But here is good too - lots of commenters to augment my musings, thank goodness.

The answer might possibly be the Alphabet of Semitish by Nizar Habash. He has an interesting site to explore. He is an "Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Computational Learning systems in Columbia University." Habas has also invented the Delason Constructed Language and writing system. Of particular interest here is his Palisra Gallery with this introduction.

What is Palisra?

Palisra is an artistic exploration of the nature of a world where Palestinian and Israeli nationalisms never existed. They are replaced by a merged nationalism, that of the people of the Holy Land.


This is an ongoing project that includes creating all elements of an alternative merged nationalism: flag, money notes, stamps, religious art, and language (an Arabic-Hebrew esperanto we are calling Semitish).


Is this a vision of things to come or an elaborate escape of a bloody reality?

That's up to you to decide.


In my next post I hope to feature Nizra's Phoenician input utility!

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