Re: Ciphers (Was: Berber/Tifinagh)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 13:36:58 EST

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re[2]: Berber/Tifinagh (was: Swahili & Banthu)"

    At 04:04 AM 11/10/2003, Peter Kirk wrote:

    >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?

    Good questions. I was trying to suggest a semiotic approach to the question
    of what constitutes a cipher. Since everything I wrote hinges around the
    fact that writing systems are 'conventional', you are right to ask how this
    is determined. I don't doubt that there will be grey areas, as you suggest.

    >And then what about the use by Freemasons of the Samaritan script? This is
    >a real living script, roadmapped by Unicode on the basis of its use by a
    >very different community. The Masonic usage is usually considered a
    >cipher. Should the Masonic texts be encoded with Samaritan characters,
    >when they are defined, or with Latin ones?

    You're asking the wrong person about this one.

    >Also what should be done if the cipher has different bidi etc properties
    >from the original writing system? This issue may make it impossible to
    >render Tifinagh in Latin script just by changing font.

    Well, Tifinagh is not a cipher and writing Tifinagh with a Latin cipher is
    a bad idea. But things like bidi properties are only an issue if you are
    employing a cipher at the glyph level. I've already explained why I think
    ciphers, masquerading and transliteration should be carried out at the
    character level, not the glyph level. So if, you example, you wanted to
    write English in the Hebrew script, you should convert Latin characters to
    Hebrew characters, not Latin glyphs to Hebrew glyphs.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    I sometimes think that good readers are as singular,
    and as awesome, as great authors themselves.
                                           - JL Borges

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