Re: Character codes for Egyptian transliteration

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Fri Aug 29 2003 - 13:18:18 EDT

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: Character codes for Egyptian transliteration"

    At 02:10 -0700 2003-08-26, Peter Kirk wrote:

    >>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.

    Well, *I* gave it its name. And as to the glyph, having an original
    model in something does not mean that an entity has not budded off
    into its own letterness. ;-)

    >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.

    I disagree. Gardiner uses plenty of commas throughout his work, and
    they are normal, raised, comma-sized commas. The EGYPTOLOGICAL AYIN
    is much longer, reaching from just above the baseline to x-height.
    There is no chance that it is just an italic reversed comma. A
    revised proposal will show examples indicating this.

    >As for the casing distinction, I wonder if this is in fact unique to
    >Gardiner. If so, perhaps a PUA character is appropriate.

    For Egyptian? Certainly not. Gardiner is essential in Egyptology, and
    I would consider plain-text representation of his texts to be
    essential. Whether it is unique to him or not, his work is seminal.

    >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.

    I don't think that the apostrophe-ayin is the lower-case of this
    character, even if it refers to the same *sound*.

    >>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


    >>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

    We need to encode modern editorial practice. And it is not just Gardiner.

    >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.

    Cleopatra's name is written with an Egyptian cup; modern editors
    encode K or k for that cup depending on context, the capital being
    used for proper names. That's why Gardiner cased Egyptian alef, ayin,
    and yod. It's that novel *Latin* practice which is proposed for

    >>>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.

    The YOGH is NOT essentially the same shape as the EGYPTOLOGICAL ALEF,
    Neither is EGYPTOLOGICAL AYIN the same shape as U+02BD MODIFIER
    LETTER REVERSED COMMA. Even if it was derived from that, it has its
    own attributes now which make it different. Like size and casing..

    >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?

    For my part I look at the etymology or origin of the character. I
    recognize (some do not) that sometimes a letter is borrowed from
    another script and naturalized. I look at how the character
    functions, what kinds of glyphs are OK for it. The Egyptological
    characters all are unique enough to merit encoding.

    >>>>>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.

    I don't think it is apparently identical to either a half ring (it is
    more than half a ring), or apparently identical to the combining
    apostrophe. It is, hm, more moon-like than anything. No, I don't
    think it's the Vietnamese tone mark either.

    >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.

    I don't follow that logic at all.

    >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.

    It is not identical to either. I do not want to add a combining
    Egyptological ring-thingy to Unicode. It is not a productive mark. A
    capital and small letter i with a deformed dot is what's needed,
    that's all.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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