Re: Character codes for Egyptian transliteration

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Tue Aug 26 2003 - 05:10:05 EDT

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    On 25/08/2003 18:47, Michael Everson wrote:

    > At 05:15 -0700 2003-08-21, Peter Kirk wrote:
    >> On 21/08/2003 03:14, Michael Everson wrote:
    >>> At 10:59 +0100 2003-08-21, Paul James Cowie wrote:
    >>>> the sign used for aleph (looks like a 3, but isn't, obviously)
    >>> Not encoded yet.
    >> What are you using for ayin?
    > EGYPTOLOGICAL AYIN? I don't think it is either U+02BD or U+02BF. The
    > former is a reversed comma, the latter a half-ring. And neither has a
    > capital, as the Egyptological character has.

    Michael, it is very clear to me that the Egyptological ayin is modelled
    in its glyph as well as its name on the ayin used in transliteration of
    Hebrew, Arabic etc. The slightly variant shape in Gardiner is simply
    because all the transliterations in Gardiner are in italics and so the
    visible glyph is an italic reversed comma. As for the casing
    distinction, I wonder if this is in fact unique to Gardiner. If so,
    perhaps a PUA character is appropriate. But no doubt Paul Cowie can
    advise on whether this is a widely used. If it is, I would suggest
    adding one new character for an upper case ayin rather than a new pair.

    >> If you are using U+02BF, you might consider using U+02BE as an
    >> interim for aleph, and considering the glyph like a 3 as a
    >> typographic variant.
    > A double half-ring as a glyph variant for a single half-ring? No
    > thanks. And EGYPTOLOGICAL ALEF is casing.
    >> U+02BE is commonly used for transliteration of Hebrew alef as well as
    >> the phoentically similar Arabic hamza. Or maybe you are using U+02BB
    >> or U+02BD (and yes, I know I am doing this in my Hebrew issues
    >> document, but only because the other glyphs were not in the font),
    >> not sure if you should be, in that case aleph would fit better with
    >> U+02BC though I guess you wouldn't want to change the glyph in your
    >> font as you don't want all your apostrophes looking like 3's.
    > The Egyptological characters are quite different from the other
    > modifier letters used for Arabic and Hebrew. Alef in general Semitics
    > looks like a right single quotation mark or a right-half ring.
    > Egyptological Alef looks like two right-half rings one over the other,
    > and usually these are connected. This is clearly a novel letter. And
    > while Semitic Ayin is often represented with either U+02BB or U+02BF,
    > neither of those are casing. To my mind, the Egyptological letters
    > exist in one-to-one relation with Gardiner G1 'Egyptian vulture'
    > (ALEF), M17 'flowering reed' (YOD) and 36 'forearm' (AYIN) apart from
    > the casing which has been added in modern editorial practice.

    Well, the one to one correspondences are not nearly so simple e.g. there
    are many other hieroglyphic characters which represent a group of
    consonants including alef, yod or ayin.

    >> Or would U+021D or U+025C be suitable for your 3?
    > U+021D is yogh, which is what it is. It is not an Alef, and the
    > resemblance is only superficial. And U+025C is a reverse epsilon, not
    > an Alef.

    Well, I am confused. You are rejecting some alternatives because of
    different shaped glyphs for the same function and others because of
    different functions with essentially the same shape. What are the
    criteria for adding new Latin characters to Unicode? Do they have to be
    novel in function, novel in shape, or just one or the other?

    >>>> the sign used for yod (looks like a i with a right ring tick above it)
    >> This one looks rather like U+1EC9 though I am not sure if the hook
    >> above is quite the right shape for you. You might prefer a regular i
    >> followed by U+0357 COMBINING RIGHT HALF RING ABOVE. Or maybe U+0313
    >> would be preferred, this is the Greek smooth breathing and looks like
    >> a comma.
    > None of the above.

    But the Egyptological glyph is apparently identical to one or other of
    these. We really can't go down the road of encoding combining marks by
    detailed function. If so we will have to disunify acute accent into all
    sorts of different things: a marker of closer articulation (French), of
    stress (many languages including modern Greek), of tone (classical Greek
    and African languages) etc etc. Or else we can note that the
    Egyptolological mark is identical in shape to either U+0357 or U+0313
    and so use the existing mark.

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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