RE: Phaistos in ConScript

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 12:28:46 EDT

At 17:40 +0200 2002-07-08, Marco Cimarosti wrote:
>Michael Everson wrote:
>> >1. Your lacks an important sign, which I would call "PHAISTOS
>> Um, can't something from General Punctuation be used, in the absence
>> of knowing more about this "character"?
>It seems very imprudent, considering that nothing is known abut the nature
>of that a sign.

How much more imprudent is it to encode it as a unique character when
nothing is known about it? :-)

>E.g. would you dare to unify it with U+0316 (COMBINING GRAVE ACCENT BELOW)
>without knowing whether it is a stress mark, a tone mark, a cantillation
>mark, a vowel muter, a full stop, a comma, a determinative for

I ask again:

> > Do you have an analysis of all the signs which take it in the document?
>Yes, in Louis Godart, "Il disco di Festo: l'enigma di una scrittura",
>Einaudi (Italy) 1994, ISBN 8806128922. An English translation should now be

OK, I have the English translation of it. But you want the character.
You do the work. Please look and tell me by cell number and character
(A-I-22, A-IV-1, B-VI-45) where they are actually applied. Be
comprehensive. Thanks.

>BTW, the only thing I disliked in this excellent book was the fact that,
>IMHO, Godart was to quick to accept the assumption that this sign could be
>punctuation, and he even uses it to segment the text in "sentences" or

What page or section does he state that specifically?

>Perhaps, it would be useful to have a (non PUA) Unicode symbol to mark
>unidentified characters in any kind of paleographic or critic texts. This
>could be the object of a proposal, or it could be unified with one of the
>existing shaded rectangles.

Markup. In my file I just wrote [.] as Godart did. But for Egypian
and Cuneiform it's been suggested that markup is the appropriate
means for showing this element of palaeography.

> > I agree that those names aren't good. The dotted one occurs at the
>> beginning of the text on both sides. PHAISTOS BEGINNING OF TEXT and
>Still assumptions, but much more reasonable.

The one does begin the text on both sides, and the other does separate.

> > I don't like VERTICAL LINE and DOTTED
>> VERTICAL LINE very much. That kind of description we usually reserve
>> for abstract technical symbols rather than punctuation.
>Punctuation? Did you discover it is punctuation? :-)

Separators are punctuation. What else? Perhaps it is a 17th-century
BCE spreadsheet.

>OTOH, you know the Phaistos Disk "translators": for many of them, the
>character names on your CSUR page make enough evidence that PHAISTOS SIGN OX
>BACK was pronounced /bu/. (or even /kau as/ :-)

There are silly people everywhere.

> > I have followed Egyptological -- and ancient Egyptian -- practice
>> here. If the script is represented right-to-left the faces point to
>> the right so that you read into their faces. If the script direction
>> is reversed so that it is left-to-right, it is conventional -- among
>> Egyptologists and ancient Egyptians -- to reverse the signs as well.
>I see. But Hieroglyphs were handwritten, not "typed".

And carved in stone and wood. Impressed in soft clay probably. Your point?

>Moreover, the mirroring of glyphs is actually attested for Egyptian.

Yeah because you have thousands of documents. Mirroring is also
attested in Greek and Etruscan. I don't think I've erred in thinking
that it would apply to Phaistos in left-to-right directionality.

> > Godart does not reverse the glyphs even though he reverses the
>> directionality, but I think it is *his* practice which is
>> ahistorical, and I think it makes the text harder to read. And I
>> suspect is has to do with the font technology he had in 1994 when he
>> wrote his book.
>It's seems that July 2002 is our disagreement month... I think that Godart
>was perfectly right avoiding assumptions that he could not support: there is
>no reason to think that the Phaistos "script" should work as Egyptian
>hieroglyphs work.

No way! *ALL* of the scripts of that part of the world show mirroring
of characters when the script direction is reversed. There's no
reason to assume that Phaistos would be otherwise.

>I don't think font technology had anything to do with this choice: from my
>printed edition of "Il disco di Festo" I can see clearly that the text was
>reproduced using little images, not a font (sometimes the borders of the
>film and the adhesive tape are still visible).

Right, so then he had a sheet of drawings photocopied dozens of times
and pasted them down. He didn't think of directionality in the way we
do I guess.

Michael Everson *** Everson Typography ***

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