Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Degrees of separation

It's funny how divergent causes come together to different effects.

Just over 2 years ago, as part of the local Science Week events (that year's theme being the elements), I went to a lecture at the Classical Archaeology faculty about the early philosophising on the matter. And came away with the word αρχε - arche, as in archetype. Which I later used as an alternative take on the concept of Dust (as per Egan in Permutation City, rather than as per Pullman in His Dark Materials).

Just over a year ago, I was assigned some work on doing quick-and-dirty HTML layout so as to break up pages into areas for better display on small form factor devices, while retaining the big-screen geometric relationships between areas on the page - as an example www.economist.com would show the logo, then a representation of the header the left and right columns, and the bottom of page material, each of which would be clickable and lead to the represented part of the page, while the meat of the page would be immediately visible. This led me to discover quite how bad most corporate web sites are - just try validator.w3.org on your usual browsing - and thus to being a bit of a standards fanatic.

So I revised my personal websites based on this experience to be friendly to limited devices, and light-weight on full browsers (no table layouts). And to put in xml:lang= tags on the non-english text. But what to use for classical Greek (αρχε again)? Well, it takes a bit of delving into the 3-letter extended ISO language codes to find that "grc" is to be used for Greek up to the fall of Byzantium. In getting to the 3-letter codes, I found a number of invented languages had 2-letter codes. And this led to other constructed languages - I jotted some notes about this a year or so back, before starting this blog - including the delightfully different language Ceqli, which I then used a representation of the Tweenspeak language from my old SF.

That was last summer.

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded another bit of (fan-)fiction with some Ceqli in - though I had to fudge it a bit, where the vocabulary was lacking - no word for save/rescue/preserve. This time I put the text and the mention of the language on the same HTML page, and within a week had received an e-mail from the inventor of the language (noting that I'd had to fudge matters) - and the word "taral" has been added to meet my needs.

Not the most obvious outcome of those two initial events.

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