Re: Ciphers (Was: Berber/Tifinagh)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 20:47:15 EST

  • Next message: Kenneth Whistler: "Re: Ciphers (Was: Berber/Tifinagh)"

    At 05:17 PM 11/10/2003, Peter Kirk wrote:

    >OK, let's use this as a tentative working definition. But first we need to
    >clarify: how vast is a vast majority? As a hypothetical (I think) example,
    >suppose that a community of 100 Chinese-speaking Jews is found which
    >writes Chinese in Hebrew script, mainly for liturgical and religious
    >purposes. Quite a tiny majority of the users of Chinese. Is this using
    >Hebrew script as a cipher (obviously not one-to-one!) for Chinese? Or is
    >it a recognised use of a different script? Then, how is the use of Theban
    >script different?

    I think there is a difference between adapting an existing script to write
    a language normally written in another script, and inventing a script
    specifically for that purpose. That is, there is a difference between using
    a writing system as a cipher and a cipher per se. So the Hebrew script is
    going to be encoded because it is used for the Hebrew language and others
    that have developed distinct identities in that script (e.g, Ladino,
    Yiddish). So your hypothetical Chinese Jewish community is in the same
    situation as your Masons: they are using an existing script to write a
    language more commonly written in another script. Since both scripts are
    legitimately encoded, it is a matter of implementation whether this
    community uses one or the other to encode their texts. Presumably, they
    will use whichever is easier.

    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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