Why is it possible for the Cyrillic script to be adopted in so many languages?

What made Roman script suited for adoption?

The fact it was adopted a lot. Latin on its own is not particularly suited for a lot of phonemes, but it was the only game in town in Western and Central Europe, and that meant there was a long, long tradition of workarounds—both digraphs and diacritics. So another digraph or diacritic for another language was not a big deal. Only Vietnamese really stretched that.

Ultimately, hegemony came first: it was the script of the Catholic Church and the mediaeval intelligentsia—if you want to write down your barbaric dialect, deal with it.

What made Greek script suited?

Hegemony of Greek culture and the Orthodox Church, meaning it was a target for Bactrian and Cyrillic, and Balkan languages and Turkish. On Cyrillic see below.

But it wasn’t repurposed that often, the languages it was repurposed for were usually not mainstream languages (or it was not the mainstream spelling of a mainstream language). And while there are traditions of both digraphs and diacritics in Greek, they have never become mainstream themselves: a little digraph work in Greek dialect (Cypriot, Tsakonian), diacritics limited to Greek dialectology. That means that it was not a very good fit for other languages most of the time.

What made Cyrillic script suited?

Hegemony of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Communist Church. There was a merry-go-round of scripts from Arabic to Latin to Cyrillic to Latin.

A broader phonetic repertoire than Greek or Latin, which helped.

The broader phonetic repertoire was because Cyril was not afraid to add new letters. Greek did it only once or twice. Outside of the  IPA, and the IPA-inspired African alphabets, Latin only did it once or twice. Through the precedence of Glagolitic, Cyril added a dozen.

And Cyrillic kept adding new letters (typically as variants of old letters) whenever a new language’s inventory showed up; there’s more new letters than digraphs and diacritics (though you get those too). Just as well they did: they have the languages of the Caucasus to deal with.

Why did they keep adding new letters? As with Roman and diacritics: precedent. That’s how Cyrillic, as distinct from Roman, started adapting to new languages.

What made Arabic script suited?

An OK consonant repertoire, and diacritics meaning that you can add more consonants as variants (three dots for Farsi, four dots for Shina language, as well as digraphs for Urdu). OTOH, avoiding vowels outside of matres lectionis. Doesn’t work well outside Semitic.

And Hegemony of Islam.

What made Hebrew script suited?

I don’t know if Hegemony and Judaism go together, but that. And as for Arabic: some diacritics and digraphs, though not common enough outside of Yiddish to be a fine-tuned instrument; and only matres lectionis for vowels.

Don’t know enough about other scripts.

What are your five favourite operas?

I… don’t actually like opera, with the following exceptions. So my answers are (a) not representative, and (b) damn good, if they got past my “I don’t like opera” filter.

  • John Adams, Nixon in China.
  • Alban Berg, Wozzeck.
  • Wolfgang Mozart, Don Giovanni.
  • Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier.

Need a fifth, OK:

  • Benjamin Britten, Peter Grimes.

Thirty years ago, but I remember liking it at the time.

EDIT: Strike that. I meant to say

  • Philip Glass, Akhnaten.

Is there a “White Black” prototypical character in the Balkan, Turkish, Middle Eastern, or Arabic folklore or fairy tales?

Not aware of one in Greek folklore. Lots of Arapis in Greek fairy tales, filling the same niche as ogres and giants—sometimes benevolent, sometimes malicious, but always exotic. But not aware of White Arapis.

I stepped on my dog’s foot by accident. In situations like these (where the dog is obviously hurt and shows it by crying loudly), what is the first thing to do to make it clear that the injury wasn’t on purpose and that I am not angry with the dog?

This issue has been addressed beautifully in My Dog: The Paradox – The Oatmeal (final panel):

This raises the interesting question of whether dogs always realise that you did the stepping—let alone whether it was intentional.

How has it happened and Kemal Ataturk did not adopt Greek Alphabet, although in the Ottoman empire the Greek (and Cyrillic) were spoken?

There was use of Greek script to write Turkish: Karamanli Turkish. Illustrated in https://www.quora.com/How-has-it…

But without some concerted linguistic  work, Greek script was not much better suited to Turkish than Arabic script was. No differentiation between <ı> and <u> for example: both ου. No systematic differentiation of <c> and <ç>, just as Greek (at the time) did not differentiate /ts/ and /dz/: both τζ. No smooth way of rendering <ö> and <ü>. No differentiation of <ş> and <s>.

Now these were not insurmountable difficulties. The Soviet orthography for Pontic (now reborn on the Pontic Wikipedia) dealt with similar issues by inventive use of digraph, and by ignoring any backward compatibility with metropolitan Greek.

But why bother when

  • there was a lot more precedent of using Latin for new language scripts (Cyrillic was mostly a Soviet-era thing), including diacritics (which only Greek dialectologists use)
  • Latin was consistent with Kemal’s imperative of Westernisation
  • Latin did not have any significant associations with minorities (Levantines were few, and seen as representatives of the West anyway)

There was also the small issue of who the Turkish War of Independence was fought against…