July 04, 2007

The Ease of Learning Writing Systems

Yesterday I quoted Stolper and Tavernier's observation that "For a modern student, to learn the Old Persian script is a work of scarcely an hour". I'm not sure if everyone got it, but on the basis of my own experience learning writing systems as well as my experience of teachers of "exotic" languages, I took this to be somewhat tongue in cheek. This view is confirmed by The Mad Latinist, a former student of Professor Stolper, who thinks that most students will require well over an hour. In the comments, Tiye provides some other choice quotes garnered while taking Akkadian from Professor Stolper:

It takes only a couple of years to learn all the Akkadian you need to pass a comprehensive exam. It takes much longer to get a degree in French Lit, so obviously Akkadian is easier than French.

Those scribes had pretty short life spans, so it must not take too long to get good at Akkadian.

Reading a newspaper in English is 100 times more complex than reading a cuneiform tablet.

Posted by Bill Poser at July 4, 2007 07:23 PM