babel blog


Cantillated Dictionary Extract
August 10, 2008, 11:21 pm
Filed under: alphabet, text

Cantillation is the chanting or singing of liturgical texts. It’s usually found within Jewish or Christian religious traditions, however this sung dictionary extract I found on youtube shows that singing text works quite well for secular literature too!

There is a story from the mystical Hebrew tradition Kabbalah, that god created the world from language. Here language is not just seen as a vehicle for conveying god’s thoughts, but also as the fabric of the universe:

language is the very stuff of creation, and grammar the way in which it is formed

Sefer Yetzirah

If you’re fond of mixing your mysticisms, you can go to the Kabbalah yoga website where there’s an applet which will transliterate your name into Hebrew and thence into a series of yoga postures.

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Examples of Fantastic Graffiti
July 27, 2008, 5:54 pm
Filed under: alphabet, art, text

"Q" by Eine

"Q" by Eine


I’ve recently been feeding my obsession with all things textual by considering the role of text within graffiti. From the story in Daniel where King Belshazzar’s doom is spelled out by the cryptic message “mene mene tekel parsin”, through to Life of Brian’s “Romanes eunt domus” scene and beyond, illicitly writing on walls seems to be a good way of getting your message across. Sometimes, text is valued for its artistic merits and its message is beyond the conventional linguistic meaning. Eine is an artist who clearly values letters for both meaning and form and specialises in writing on walls and other public places. Eine’s alphabet series is written on various shop-shutters in the East End of London. Nighttime photographs of the complete alphabet can be viewed here, and on this page (whence I stole the above ‘Q’) a devoted fan has compiled the letters into a ‘rude word search’ – most amusing. Eine also uses his distinctive font to leave messages – vandalism is my favourite.