RE: Phaistos in ConScript

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 14:06:46 EDT

Michael Everson wrote:
> 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
> >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
> >logographs...?
> 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
> >available.
> 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.

It will be a delightful activity for my vacations. (But I know what my wife
will say: "Aren't you bringing *that* book with you again also this
vacations, are you?")

> > > 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 was just implying that nothing more than "reasonable" can be said about
character names for an unknown script. Nobody can honestly say they are
"correct" or "incorrect".

Imagine that these last two paragraphs were the only remains of English, it
would be perfectly reasonable to chose the name ENGLISH BEGINNING OF TEXT
for uppercase "I"...

> > > 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.

Probably? Never heard such a thing, apart seals. BTW, Egyptian would have
required a big set of punches, and it would have posed complex kerning

> Your point?

Handwriting (or hand carving) a mirrored version of a sign has no additional
costs. Impressing a mirrored version of a sign means casting two (golden?)
sets of punches.

However, if you faithfully copy the glyphs seen on the disc, you cannot be
wrong. If you don't, you can be right or wrong, depending on chance.

> >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.

The signs of Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan were all handwritten; those of
Ph.D. weren't. Anyway, we know that Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan allowed
mirroring; for Ph.D. we simply don't know.

> > > 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.

There are three very good reasons:

1) See the above about costs and planning ahead.

2) AFAIK, it is not true that *all* other scripts in the Mediterranean had
mirroring. Particularly I never heard this for Linear A, Linear B and
Cyprian, which are the most likely relatives of Ph.D.

3) Anyway, we don't know for sure which "part of the world" the Phaistos
Disc is from.

_ Marco

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