Re: Unicode politics (was: A basic question on encoding Latin cha

From: Dean A. Snyder (
Date: Tue Oct 05 1999 - 18:00:53 EDT

Michael Everson:

> >And this is how it has always been in the history of writing systems. As far
> >as I know, languages have always been put in writing by natives who were
> >previously acquainted with the (then) dominant language *and* its writing
> >systems.
> Not Mayan. Not Rongorongo. Not Indus. Not Cherokee, really (Sequoyah knew
> > about writing and had samples, but didn't read English).
>>Scott Horne:

> >>Nor Akkadian, nor Chinese....

Dean Snyder:

> >Akkadian script is based upon Sumerian, and the Akkadian scribes
> >learned Sumerian in school. We have many Sumero-Akkadian bi-lingual
> >texts and most Akkadian texts have various Sumerian logograms
> >embedded in them.

Michael Everson:

>I call it Sumero-Akkadian but the was that this particular writing system
>wasn't borrowed from another one.

I hate to be picky, but from my point of view to say that the
Sumerian script was not borrowed from another earlier and different
language group, is either an argument from silence or a potential
misinterpretation of the data (not on your part).

Also, for me "Sumero-Akkadian" as the name of a script system is a
bit like calling Roman script "Greco-Roman" - after all both Akkadian
and Roman script systems have similar histories. They both adapted to
their own languages a pre-exisiting script system from a culture they
apparently admired, and over the centuries modified it by adding
symbols, deleting symbols, and changing the shapes of others. Roman
script, of course, became so different from Greek that today we have
both encodings - and rightfully so. But alas no Sumerian or Akkadian
encodings as of yet!

Speaking of which, I just so happen to be attending the University of
Chicago/Oriental Institute Conference on the Electronic Publication
of Ancient Near Eastern Texts this Friday and Saturday, Oct 8 & 9.
The main topics for discussion will be the encoding (10646/Unicode)
and tagging (XML/TEI) of cuneiform texts. The conference is free and
open if anyone is interested. You can read the program at:

Dean A. Snyder
Senior Information Technology Specialist, Humanities
Research and Instructional Technologies, 167 Krieger Hall
School of Arts and Sciences, 426A Gilman Hall
The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA 21218
410-516-6021 office
410-961-8943 mobile
410-516-5508 fax email

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