Re: Perception that Unicode is 16-bit (was: Re: Surrogate space i

From: John Cowan (
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 10:47:30 EST

Marco Cimarosti wrote:

> - "Script" is a generic term meaning a writing system of any kind, its
> inventory of signs and its orthographic rules.
> - "Alphabet" is a specific class of scripts, whose principal characteristic
> is that tends to map each sign to one of the language's phonemes.

I think that should rather be called an "alphabetic script", e.g. Latin,
Greek, Cyrillic.

"Alphabet" rather means the repertoire associated with a specific
language which uses an alphabetic script. Thus Italian and English
share the Latin script, but the English alphabet is a superset of the
Italian alphabet.

I say "associated with" because particular graphemes may be used with
the language (e.g. accented vowels in Italian or French) and yet be
excluded from the alphabet by being consolidated with other alphabetic

There is also a distressing and non-English tendency to use "alphabet"
as a synonym for "alphabetic letter" (e.g. "English uses 26 alphabets")
which I have seen on this mailing list and elsewhere. This is a

There is / one art             || John Cowan <>
no more / no less              ||
to do / all things             ||
with art- / lessness           \\ -- Piet Hein

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:19 EDT