Happenings – 2011 Jul 9

It’s been a relatively slow week for the blog. Work has been busier than usual, and the temperature has been hotter than usual.

My earthquake prediction for July? On July 7 there was a 7.7 followed by a 6.0 in the Kermadec Islands Region – which is part of New Zealand, but about 550 miles northeast of its North Island. That gives me half of my predicted four earthquakes of magnitude at least 6 in July.

Here’s an odd picture of the location of the 7.7 quake.

The two big land masses are Australia to the left and Antarctica at the bottom. Clearly the USGS has software that rotates the globe so that the epicenter is dead-center.

I haven’t quite finished the blog post for this coming Monday, but I have all the screenshots. It will update the nonlinear behavior of my monitor in particular, and show you another typical nonlinear function for monitors in general. In other words, another color post; it will let me move between RGB and XYZ on my monitor – and XYZ lets me move to and from CIELab.

That electronic flash card program I talked about recently? So far, so good. I’ve managed to load images of the Cherokee syllabary, and they look fine.

Some mathematicians are also good at music, and some are also good at languages. I’m not particularly good at either, but I just can’t leave languages alone. While I’m in no hurry to learn Cherokee, its syllabary seemed a good candidate for testing the flash card program. And, of course, I own a couple of books about the Cherokee language, one of which had handwritten symbols instead of the more florid print type face.

In case you don’t recognize the term syllabary… English, of course, has an alphabet, with distinct symbols for vowels and consonants. We don’t quite have enough distinct symbols – we have far more than five vowel sounds, for example, but only five vowel symbols (let’s ignore the use of “y” as a vowel). In a syllabary, roughly speaking, I’m used to seeing distinct symbols for consonant-vowel combinations. This leads to closer to 100 symbols than to 30.

Japanese, for example, has two syllabaries – hiragana and katakana – in addition to the kanji ideograms it adapted from Chinese. (And, it does have symbols for vowels alone, but not for consonants alone.)

Anyway, now I’ve got flash cards for 82 symbols for written Cherokee.

Oh, the invention of the Cherokee syllabary is one heck of a story. The Sequoia tree is named for Sequoyah of the Cherokee – who decided that the secret to the white man’s power was his writing, and who invented a syllabary for Cherokee. Since he did not know how to read or write English, his symbols are sometimes familiar (R, D, I), but usually not; and even the familiar ones stand for an unfamiliar sound.

Here’s more on the Cherokee syllabary.
And the Cherokee language.

I was stunned to see a link to Rosetta Stone on this Cherokee page, but Rosetta Stone itself does not list Cherokee as one of its offerings. Maybe that’s just as well.

And here’s more on syllabaries in general, including a display of Japanese katakana.

And more about Sequoyah.

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