Re: AW: Greek/Etruscan/Gothic Unification Proposal

From: John Cowan (
Date: Tue Nov 25 1997 - 17:36:12 EST

Marcus Kuester scripsit:

> It may be a triviality, but Unicode is
> *not* used to write ancient texts --- Etruscans did not know anything about
> ISO 10646 --- but to fulfill the needs of (in this case) scholars in the
> respective fields *today*.

I agree.

> Common usage is to print ancient Greek texts in modern fonts, not
> in the way of 5th-centry BC inscriptions [!].

That is fine, if you are willing to accept reduction to plain text: i.e.,
you are not a palaeographer. In that case, an alpha is an alpha,
an omega is an omega, and modern Greek fonts serve you well.

But if you need to know EXACTLY what the text looks like, you must have
either a picture, or else some sort of markup. Any reduction to plain
text is logically equivalent to transliteration, even if it is transliteration
into the modern descendant of the same alphabet.

> Common usage is likewise to
> print Coptic texts in a Coptic script which is quite distinct from the
> modern Greek script. Likewise for Gothic. Whatever they once were, they are
> now distinct scripts which need distinct Unicode code ranges.

But the trouble here is that "common usage" in the Gothicist world is to
use the Latin script (with HWAIR) exclusively. Only if you are a palaeographer
do you care about the original-script level, and then plain text will not
satisfy you.

> Greek and Coptic passages --- and likewise the other scripts
> --- must be distinguishable in plain text, in databases or the like,
> without recourse to any higher level protocol.

But then on what principles can you reject the claims of Bunz and Gippert
that Asomtavruli, Nusxa-Xucuri and Mxedruli must be distinguishable in
(scholarly) plain texts and so require separate encodings?

Ioannes Sanguinarius
			e'osai ko sarji la lojban

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