Yesterday as I was wandering out of the parking lot on campus, waiting for the caffeine to kick in before another 9am meeting, I stumbled by the same newspaper box I always do, when I saw a giant schwa staring back at me. A local alternative paper, the Metro Times, has an article on a Detroiter who goes by the name ‘Uncle Jerrold’ and his campaign to introduce the schwa as a new letter of the alphabet. The article here is a fascinating read, not because it’s likely to become a reality but because of the ways in which the logic of orthographic reform relates to beliefs about language and cognition.
This evening I was playing around with Wordle (which makes gorgeous word clouds from user-provided text) in preparation for an in-class exercise in my intro linguistic anthropology class tomorrow. And of course I ended up throwing other chunks of text in there, including this rather fetching visual representation of chapter 13 (the conclusion) of Numerical Notation: