Re: Ciphers (Was: Berber/Tifinagh)

From: John Cowan (
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 07:59:06 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Ciphers (Was: Berber/Tifinagh)"

    Peter Kirk scripsit:

    > But when does an unconventional use become a new convention? If a
    > particular community chooses to write English (for example) using e.g.
    > Cyrillic or Hebrew characters, with a one to one mapping, are they using
    > a cipher or are they transliterating? Does it depend on how regular the
    > use is?

    I fear that all this talk of signifiers and signifieds (a very un-English
    construction, that "signifieds") misses the point of ciphers. A cipher
    of the relevant type (a "substitution cipher", technically) is a mapping
    of the usual symbols in a text or set of texts to other symbols WITH
    THE INTENT OF SECRECY. That is why Theban is a cipher, and so is the
    venerable "pig-pen", and Masonic Samaritan; but the ecclesiastical use
    of Samaritan is not, nor are

    > [l]anguages formerly written in Cyrillic are now
    > being written in Latin script with a one to one mapping.

    There is / One art                      John Cowan <>
    No more / No less             
    To do / All things            
    With art- / Lessness                     -- Piet Hein

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