Re: Etruscan

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon Nov 10 1997 - 11:04:54 EST

Hi Claudio. Thanks for your note. Copying the Unicode discussion list with
my response to you.

>>Hi Claudio. People are still arguing about whether Etruscan should have a
>>basic left-to-right directionality in the encoding or a basic right-to-left
>>one. Do you have a view? Whatever it has, it will be possible to reverse
>>it, but it has to have a default.
>I should be clear that I'm not an "Etruscanist" in the sense that I make a
>living it out it, just a rather devoted amateur scholar, but I'll throw in
>my opinion for what it may be worth.

Devotion is fine. "Scholars and enthusiasts" are the users for many
scripts. Someone making a living out of a dead script is only one kind of

>Someone mentioned the CIE (Corpus Inscriptionem Etruscarum), the scholarly
>compendium of Etruscan texts. Not only are the inscc. all listed LTR there,
>but they are also all transliterated into Roman characters. This is the
>norm, as far as I've seen with most similar compendia of ancient languages.
>The native letters are used in the scholarly sources _only_ when some point
>is being made about the letter forms: in those cases, the inscription being
>cited is shown in whatever configuration it originally appears, LTR or RTL.
>I suspect this is partly due to the difficulty of cutting new printers'
>type, or just a tendency to standardize everything.

I suspect the former. Runic studies suffer from the same over-latinization.

>As has been pointed out there was a gradual transition, under Latin
>influence, from RTL to LTR. And yes, the majority of "classical" Etruscan
>inscriptions are RTL, at the time when the Etruscans were at their
>political and cultural height.
>So I see your confusion. But really, I can't answer this question. It comes
>down to your decision whether you want each script to be encoded in its
>most historically natural "classical" form, or whether you want to make
>concessions to modern usage. As a publisher I have to deal with this exact
>same dilemma all the time, and in the end it comes down to figuring out who
>the intended audience is and trying to anticipate what works best for them.

Which is just what we are trying to do.

>In your case, I would think that since there aren't a whole body of
>Etruscans out there waiting to write something down in their native tongue,
>and that all modern students of the language are understanding it through a
>Latinized medium, the LTR direction would be preferable as the default.

It is very convenient for today's potential users.

>Otherwise, in my humble opinion, you'll be designing a historically precise
>script for an audience that hasn't existed for 2000 years.


>I hope that helps.

We shall see.

My recommendation to the UTC, and what will be my recommendation to WG2, is
that the default direction for Etruscan shall be LTR.

Michael Everson, EGT *
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire (Ireland)
Gutháin:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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