‘You said somewhere that you would like to write in one of the Nordic languages because they have more vowels, and vowels are more serious.’

You:

‘Did I say that? But Latin languages have more vowels than Nordic ones! I think what I meant was that I would like to write in one of those ancient northern tongues which were almost entirely made up on vowels. I’ve always felt it had something to do with the climate. They were hot languages, insulated by all those heaped up vowels.’

Me:

‘Ancient Hebrew only had consonants. Presumably so that there was no risk of them accidentally writing the secret name of God.’

You:

‘Or perhaps that was to do with the climate too. Consonants were more open and airy, more suited to a language of the desert.’

‘You also said that you hated sans serif typefaces.’

‘Oh, yes, they’re terrible! All those naked letters, reduced to their stark scaffolding. No-one can possibly recognise their mother tongue when printed in a Futura typeface. It lacks maternal warmth, it lacks friendliness.’

‘I fear Cuervo may be right: we are somewhat unscientific.’

‘And prejudiced too. Vowels can be dispensed with. A text written solely using vowels would be illegible, but in a text using only consonants, one could guess the vowels. A text in which X replaced all the Os, as in that story by Poe, might prove difficult to read, but would, ultimately, be decipherable.’

Luis Fernando Verissimo, Borges & the Eternal Orangutan (one of the best books I’ve read in a long time)

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