Re: boustrophedon

From: Mark Leisher (
Date: Wed Nov 05 1997 - 13:51:12 EST

    Martin> On Tue, 4 Nov 1997, Chester, Bernard wrote:
>> 3. How do we designate "boustrophedon" as a directionality? Is
>> it implicit in the codepoint? Must we format each line in
>> advance with its directionality?

    Martin> There is a more basic question:

    Martin> What does it mean to mix bustrophedon text with e.g. LTR
    Martin> text? Do you start the first line LTR? Do you start the
    Martin> first line of actual text depending on the line number? Do
    Martin> you start again LTR when you meet a new stretch of
    Martin> bustrophedon? Do you only do bustrophedon when the final
    Martin> layout will allow the reader to use it's advantages,
    Martin> i.e. when (s)he can just drop one line down without any
    Martin> horizontal movement?

Without having seen many glosses or examples in scholarly journals, I
would still venture to say that the convention is to present them as
though they have specific directionality. That directionality is user
specified, and the only special situation is when an gloss/example spans
two or more contiguous lines.

    Martin> These questions indicate that there is probably not much, or
    Martin> no, practice regarding such multidirectionality
    Martin> documents. As "classical" BIDI shows, without experience,
    Martin> getting things right is difficult.

The goal with dead scripts is to have the ability to present them online
as close as possible to the format and shapes used in the original
"hardcopy." We need more experience in mixing boustrophedon and
non-boustrophedon text. I'm sure scholars find the current conventions
sufficient for publishing legible papers, but I have no doubt they would
love to have systems that can handle the scripts in their original
shapes and formats.
Mark Leisher "A designer knows he has achieved perfection
Computing Research Lab not when there is nothing left to add, but
New Mexico State University when there is nothing left to take away."
Box 30001, Dept. 3CRL -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Las Cruces, NM 88003

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